Both herds are dry with organic and conventional farms up 3.8% and 1.2% respectively. Average grass cover is more than 400kg/ha DM up on last year, which will offset, to some degree, the reduced hay and silage on hand because of the spring drought.
All the conventional cows had dry-cow therapy as the somatic cells on average were too high, and about 30 organic cows have developed mastitis since dry-off with most clearing up after some TLC (one cow had to be treated with antibiotic and will leave organics).
The big challenge for the organic farm at drying off was all the feeds – hay, grass & silage – being very high in protein and the cows kept making up milk.
The farm manager’s residence now sports new carpet, paint and curtains, and the farm itself has a new in-line mineral dispenser and electric fence. The electric fences were a big issue before, as the unit was on the same transformer as the cowshed and the calves knew when the unit was off and either escaped or chewed up silage bales, but the new unit is significantly bigger – on a separate transformer at the back water pump – and the fence will be constantly going with better voltage.
The organic management plan for the next season is under way and it gets significantly more complex and restrictive each year. The plan has to be approved and the farm audited by the certify agency Biogrow before we get our certificate renewed. Collecting warrantees and safety data sheets from manufacturers is a job that frustrates me immensely.