Plan will take the pressure off in dry times
At the time of writing this the countryside is beginning to dry out appreciably, though there are some areas still holding on after getting some recent rainfall.
This may mean the third dry summer in a row for many areas, and this, combined with the poor payout, is putting some pressure on farmers. Obviously it is too early in the summer to over-react at this stage but plans must be put in place to ensure that the farm is proactive not reactive.
Because the economics are not as good as last season it is not worth supplementing poorer producing cows and keeping cull animals on farm.
These animals must be identified through herd testing and pregnancy testing. This will then enable a culling guide to be drawn up and implemented when conditions dictate.
This will also allow animals to be booked in ahead of time to the meat works and therefore avoiding any lengthy holdups that can occur.
Consider also changing milking frequency to either 16 hour or once a day (OAD) systems. This is best done while the farm still has feed on hand.
Some animals may also be dried off if need be although condition score (CS) should not be a limiting factor on farms at the moment.
Once you have achieved the ‘tidy’ up of the herd then look to do a summer/autumn feed budget so that the volume of supplement required can be assessed. Feeding level of the cows will also change on a weekly basis if pasture allocation starts to deplete.
The most important thing is to keep the cows milking until con- ditions improve. Every summer has dry spell and maybe we are getting this one out of the way early.
The most important part of managing now is to keep updating the financial budgets as well as the feed budgets so that there will be no surprises for the cashflow side of the business.
Attend discussion groups and field days and most importantly keep talking to friends, family and neighbours. Don’t think that this is your problem alone.
The rural support line is also available for farmers under stress.
Things will improve. It is a question of when, not if.
Lastly make sure that you get off the farm as well. Even in times of belt tightening it is possible to go to the movies, a picnic or use some of the bike and walking traks through the countryside. So, in summary: Make a plan that is updated weekly Consider some early culling Ensure that there will be supplement available for when the rain does come
Monitor feed reserves and cow CS
•Look at changing milking frequency Talk to people Have some time off farm