Farmer Focus livestock: Dale Whalley cheers good harvest

Maize is maturing quickly and by the time you read this, it should have been harvested. I just hope the good weather continues, as harvesting conditions could be ideal.

With 100t of last years maize silage still in the clamp, the main milking group of 210 cows are now on full winter ration which includes, 25kg of maize and 8kg of a 29% protein blend.

The quantity of grass silage varies according to the amount of grass this group can consume in the five hours they have access to average grazing.

With hindsight, we should have applied fertiliser to the silage aftermaths after second cut in early August. We decided against it to save money and to prevent us having masses of grass as last year. This year, we have limited grass, but perfect conditions to keep the cows out well into October.

We have just taken delivery of 16 more Dutch heifers and a further 20 are expected, with all due to calve by mid January.

In this group is one well bred heifer whose dam gave 15,000 litres in her third lactation, I bet I can predict the sex of her calf. The first group which arrived in July have calved and are milking well.

We are six months into calving to Holsteins and our ratio of bull calves to heifer calves has been appalling. I had four heifers calve on one night and disappointingly they were all bull calves.

The calf hutches, however, have performed well with no illness apart from a little nutritional scour when we introduce starter pellets at 10 days old. The construction of housing for the weaned calves through to 15 months is taking longer than expected, but like all builders, we have moved our completion date to nearer Christmas.

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