Livestock Farmer Focus: Jim Dwyer is waiting for the surge in grass growth

Our first swallows arrived on 18 April and it would do your heart good to see them fill our skies after such a long winter. It means finally we can look forward to better days.

We are still tight on grass, despite lovely sunny days, and we are still experiencing heavy frosts at night.

We have come out of the winter reasonably well as we only had to buy one load of maize silage, but we have fed more concentrates than we would have liked. We had a lot of extra stock over the winter as we were only cleared of TB the week before Christmas.

There has been no surge in grass growth yet. Records of past times when grass growth went to nothing show a big surge once growth starts. This would be welcome as we need to build up silage stocks on the farm. This winter has shown us once again silage in the pit is like gold in the bank.

As I write, we still have a few cows to calve but, overall, calving has gone well and we have been able to get rid of our Jersey-cross bull calves. Our neighbour took these calves at about 10 days old which meant we kept sheds clear and allowed us to concentrate on our heifer calves.

Calves are now being weaned off once they reach 85kg weight and all calves are on grass, which is much healthier for them and makes life easier for us.

The volcano in Iceland has caused a lot of disruption and shows us, even with all our technology, we still find it difficult to cope with nature. Of course, farmers deal with changes of nature on a daily basis. It is important rules and regulations applied to us take into account the fact nature does not always act as planned.

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