Farmer Focus Livestock: Jim Dwyer set back by the weather

It’s 9 May; still 12-hour block grazing, still feeding citrus pulp, grass covers low in our peak growing season and the milk price down to the level it was in 1983. It has been a difficult start to the year.

The rain keeps coming and it remains cold. Our solids have not improved much; fat is 3.79% and protein 3.38%, compared with last year, at 4.14% and 3.46%. So we have a lot of catching up to do. We have closed off some ground for silage, but this may have to be grazed if growth rates don’t pick up.

We started to breed heifers on 27 April and after seven days of inseminations, we gave prostaglandin to those not showing heat. Cow breeding started on 10 May and our pre-breeding heat detection looks to have gone well, with a lot of cows showing heat despite the weather. We need good weather for the breeding season, as low dry-matter intakes at this time of the year can affect fertility. There’s no doubt feeding citrus pulp has had an effect on condition score, but we felt the cows had lost too much body condition and this must be down to low dry matter intakes earlier in the grazing season.

As low milk prices start to bite, we are looking at every way to cut costs and only buying something if it’s necessary. But it’s important not to run our businesses down now, as milk prices will increase and we must be in a position to take advantage of this in the future.

On a brighter note, it is great to see the Irish rugby team winning the grand slam; it has given all of us involved in rugby at junior level a lift.

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