Farmer Focus Livestock: Jim Dwyer sees mixed results

September brought with it some good weather allowing many farmers, including ourselves, to catch up on work.

We had mixed results from our fertility scan with 5% of cows and 6% of heifers empty in a 12-week breeding programme. We were particularly disappointed with our heifers as we would have expected a lower empty rate than this, but this has made us conscious that we need to be more diligent with our heifer rearing.

Our cows have done well considering the problems we had with retained placentas this spring and we put this down to good work by our vet. However, we still have 13% of the cows due to calve in the first half of April next year.

Fat and protein levels continue to move in the right direction with fat at 4.9% and protein moving towards 4%. This should give us a good milk price going into the autumn. There’s no doubt these solids are the result of tight grazing during the summer months, the breed of the cow and the good weather in September.

We are now block grazing every 12 hours to protect regrowths and this is critical at this time of year as the grass needs every chance to grow. Our last round of grazing will start next week (5 October) and hopefully we will remain on grass to the end of November, depending on average grass cover.

Our farm discussion group won our national EBI (economic breeding index) competition early in the year and we had an open day on one of our members’ farms. Attendance was good, with members explaining how the group operates elements of our farm businesses. Feedback was good, as many farmers like to hear how other farmers operate. 

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