Farmer Focus Livestock: Jim Dwyer prepares for calving

As I write, calving is about to start and so to the beginning of another year of dairy farming.

Compared to last year our cows are in better condition and we put this down to better feed and being more aware of cow health. We have quantified this with bulk milk samples sent to a vet lab on two occasions last year. From the results we have dosed all our stock more often and we now have a healthier group of animals.

Urea has arrived and we will spread this on the farm as soon as ground conditions permit, along with dirty water and slurry. We need to start measuring grass again as we approach grazing. It will be interesting to see how the grass has responded to the severe weather we have had. The grass we grazed during the frosty weather looks brown and lacking in life. However, the grass that was grazed with snow on it is green and full of life. We will follow these pastures and see if we can learn anything from what we have done.

Calf rearing has not been the strongest part of our business over recent years and we believe we have to improve in this area.

We are also getting a student for three months of the calving this year and we are looking forward to the extra help and also to passing on the knowledge we have obtained over our time in farming.

Milk prices lifted towards the end of last year but it seems as if there will not be much more of a lift in 2010, this is hard to understand as the New Zealand price has gone up and it looks as if it will stay at this high level going forward. One has to question the structure of our dairy industry here in Ireland if we cannot pay a decent milk price.

• For more columns from Jim Dwyer

• For more columns from other Livestock Farmer Focus writers

See more