Breed­ing choices now will im­pact on herd in 2015

Irish Independent - Farming - - Front Page -

cows are in bet­ter con­di­tion af­ter good qual­ity silage over the win­ter. Mak­ing qual­ity silage is so im­por­tant as we mustn't for­get it is the main food for four to five months. Some­times we look too much at al­ter­na­tive feeds and lose sight of the ne­ces­sity of mak­ing qual­ity silage.

Tail paint­ing be­gan in the mid­dle of March with AI started from April 1.

A big push is on this year in the north­ern re­gion to breed from AI bulls with high fer­til­ity and high solids. A farm walk was held on a Mon­aghan farm on April 6 high­light­ing the im­por­tance of breed de­ci­sions made this year.

The core mes­sage is that fe­male calves born next spring will re­sult in the heifers calv­ing down in 2015 when milk quo­tas are gone. The team of bulls I am us­ing are LLK, AXN, MJI, GJM, IRP, VGE, LTL. These have a fer­til­ity av­er­age of €115.

This year I weighed my maiden heifers thanks to Tea­gasc. In the group of 17, eight were above the tar­get of 330kg. The other nine var­ied from 237308kg. This was an in­ter­est­ing ex­er­cise. It showed me that the nine heifers gained 0.76kg/day while the lighter ones gained 0.65kg/day. The group of nine was born be­tween 01/01/10 and 05/02/10. The lighter group was born be­tween 11/ 02/ 10 and 30/03/10. The lessons for me were that the early born calf reached the tar­get and the later born calf needed ex­tra feed­ing. I will hold off to AI the lighter group in six weeks’ time.

There are 10 cows yet to calve, or 14pc of the herd. They are out­doors on an out­farm.

Each calv­ing is so dif­fer­ent. Re­cently, I put a cow in to calve. Dur­ing the night she be­gan to lose some blood. When I ex­am­ined her I could feel three feet in an un­usual po­si­tion. My gut feel­ing was there was some­thing wrong so I rang the vet. This was the first call of the year to a calv­ing.

His opin­ion was that the calf was de­formed, dead and didn't want to come out. So he op­er­ated and took it out. The calf came out like a ball shape. I had never seen the like of it be­fore. He said I was lucky enough as some­times it takes a mas­sive in­ci­sion. The cow is re­cov­er­ing well. It was surely a case of you learn some­thing new ev­ery day.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing my March milk state­ment I be­gan to cal­cu­late my avail­able quota for next year. Fol­low­ing no quota prob­lems for a num­ber of years we are be­ing warned al­ready of a dif­fi­cult year ahead.

For the year just ended, I sup­plied 405,221l in­clud­ing but­ter­fat ad­just­ment. This was 17,286l over my quota. When I add on 10,260l that I pur­chased and the 0.75pc ex­tra al­lo­ca­tion my quota will be 401,181l. This is still 4,040l over my quota.

In this third week of April I am run­ning al­most 200l/day over last year. In the dairy I al­ways keep last year's calendar be­hind this year's to quickly com­pare. I have made the de­ci­sion to sell off some milk stock as it may be eas­ier to do it now than next spring.

We of­ten hear about a pa­per trail. Over the past few weeks I know all about it. March and April must be the re­port­ing months. First there was the dairy cow re­port from ICBF with all the EBIs, next came a milk per­for­mance man­age­ment re­port. The dairy health cert for 2011 also ar­rived.

I had a clas­si­fi­ca­tion visit and fol­low­ing it there was an­other re­port in the post. The an­nual milk record­ing re­sults came and not for­get­ting the sin­gle farm pay­ment form and the Cen­sus form. I ac­cept all the re­ports are im­por­tant and pro­vide ter­rific in­for­ma­tion but how much do we take out of them? Do we take a quick glance at them the day they ar­rive and is that it? Is there a need for bet­ter co-or­di­na­tion of these re­ports?

This month I host our dis­cus­sion group, which is look­ing at calf rear­ing. There are 15 mem­bers in our group, which started in 1998, with seven of the founders still in it. I be­gan to erect a col­lect­ing yard for the cows go­ing into the par­lour on March 1. It is 46ft by 23ft and should hold 69 cows. It has a slat­ted tank and is roofed. Next month I will share the cost­ings and how it is work­ing.

For now, I am look­ing for­ward to loads of Easter eggs and spend­ing time with the fam­ily over the hol­i­days.

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