Farmer Focus Livestock: Weather hinders grass growth for Jim Dwyer

It is an unusual spring, below zero temperatures, snow on the ground and no grass growth. Despite these factors, we have been grazing cows that have calved since the first week of February. We are also feeding 4kg of citrus, as grass cover is low and grazing conditions variable.

Our pit of silage is getting small and we are feeding dry cows mainly straw and citrus pulp. A mistake we made last autumn was to milk cows to the end of November instead of drying the cows off early, which would have reduced feed demand. This is what the New Zealand dairy farmers are so good at, they assess and measure feed better than us and act accordingly.

We will have to become sharper in all aspects of our business, as our milk price is set to drop to 19cent/litre. This will be the year to cut costs and we have decided to milk the cows once a day for February and possibly March to reduce labour costs, feed costs and, hopefully, vet costs, as it is a stressful time for the animals.

We were hoping to get early slurry out to reduce fertiliser costs, but the weather has made this difficult so far. Usually when we get a cold spring like this one, growth comes quickly as soon as temperatures start to rise. We got our first 23 units of urea/acre out on 14 and 15 January, this should also help to boost growth.

I find the banking crisis difficult to understand. It is hard enough getting money despite the fact we did not cause the problem, yet the people who did cause the problem get money from government and then give themselves bonuses with the taxpayers’ money.

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