Heavy ground is tak­ing its toll on herd per­for­mance

Irish Independent - Farming - - FARM OUR - HENRY WALSH

OPHE­LIA has left a trail of de­struc­tion in her wake we never want to see again. We grew up hear­ing about Hur­ri­cane Deb­bie, the dev­as­tat­ing storm from Septem­ber 1961 and some of us also heard tales about ‘The Night of the Big Wind’ in 1832 when hun­dreds of peo­ple lost their lives.

When th­ese weather events strike our coun­try we are in left in awe of their de­struc­tive power.

Last week’s storm high­lighted many of the risks we face as farm­ers.

For ex­am­ple, farm build­ings by their na­ture are of­ten open struc­tures ex­posed to the wind. Many of them are age­ing build­ings and no longer as safe as the day they were built.

Dur­ing the storm the mes­sage was to stay in­doors, take the day off work and un­der­take no un­nec­es­sary jour­neys.

This was not so easy for farm­ers with cows to be milked,or an­i­mals to be cared for.

Good plan­ning was re­quired and to this end great credit is due to the weather fore­cast­ers for the ac­cu­racy of their fore­casts.

We are told one of the con­se­quences of global warm­ing will be more ex­treme weather events in the fu­ture. We need to make our farms more storm proof be­cause as the say­ing goes we do not know the day or the hour.

On the farm­ing front the weather is every bit as wet as the au­tumn of 2016.

Ground con­di­tions are very dif­fi­cult. The cows are hav­ing to work re­ally hard be­cause of wet fields with low dry mat­ter grass and messy roads.

We started the last rotation on Oc­to­ber 5 and will fol­low the au­tumn rotation plan­ner to have 65pc grazed and closed by Novem­ber 1.

Farm cover is 884 kg/dm/ha with growth down to 35 kg/dm/ day and de­mand sit­ting at 40.

We are feed­ing 3kg of a 14pc ra­tion to the cows as well as 2kg of silage The herd are pro­duc­ing 13.3 litres at 5.6pc fat and 4.2pc pro­tein or 1.35 kg/MS daily. This is a lit­tle bit lower than pre­vi­ous years but con­di­tions are not good and I know they are giv­ing me ev­ery­thing.

Scan­ning showed up 7pc empty in the cows af­ter 12 weeks which is well be­low our tar­get of 10pc. There was 2.5pc empty in the heifers with 90pc calv­ing in the first month.

We are al­ways look­ing at un­der­ly­ing trends and this year was very pos­i­tive with only one first calver empty along with two sec­ond calvers.

Higher milk solids

The out­come of all of this will be a more ma­ture herd next year which will de­liver us higher milk solids pro­duc­tion.

It has also al­lowed us to sell half of our in-calf heifers at full value ver­sus the huge fi­nan­cial hit associated with an empty cull cow. My son Enda body con­di­tion scored the cows in

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