Farmer Focus Livestock: Cold weather halts grazing for Jim Dwyer

We welcomed 2010 with sub-zero temperatures and the cold weather looks like it’s set to continue. We were forced to stop grazing at the end of November due to rain thus leaving a high cover of grass on some paddocks.

The river running at the edge of the farm flooded and we thought we would never get it grazed. This would have left these pastures in a bad state for grazing later in the year. However, with the severe frost the land dried out and we put some dry cows out to graze again in the second week of December.

This has turned out to be a success as the cows have put on condition and grass has been grazed to a low level and this should give us some good quality grass at the end of the first round of grazing in April. There was also the added advantage that we reduced the demand on winter feed and those now on the fodder beet are doing particularly well.

All animals have been dosed for stomach worms and fluke and they have been given a bolus containing selenium, iodine, cobalt and copper. These boluses have a cover of six months and, as we have given them for the first time this year, it will be interesting to see how they work out.

We were not happy how the cows came out of the winter last year and we are trying to see if we can improve on their performance in 2010.

We had our second clear TB test just before Christmas and this means we can sell some heifers as they calve in the spring. A lot of these heifers are Jersey crosses and from the results of a three-year trial in Moorpark, where they out-performed Holstein-Friesians by £16,000 a lactation based on a 40ha unit, there should be no problem selling them.

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