As I write we have only a handful of cows calved, but really it is the calm before the storm.
The weather is still cold with temperatures of -5C at night and no growth. I have never seen the snowdrops and the daffodils so backward at this time of the year.
We look forward to milder weather to make use of the urea and slurry we spread last month. All this work took place in ideal conditions and should give us good growth when temperatures permit.
Once the cows calve they will go to grass and we will use a rotational planner to get us up to the “magic day” when growth rate exceeds demand. We do this every year where we know we can only graze a limited amount of the farm each day to budget out the grass. This year we have brought our “magic day” forward as we feel it needs more adjustment to maximise the use of spring grass.
We hope to get our smallest maiden heifers to grass by mid-February in order get them to target weights for mating. We have included the purchasing of weighing scales in our annual budget as we need to monitor the performance of our youngstock more accurately from birth to calving.
A good paper presented at our recent Irish Grassland Association dairy conference pointed out the majority of farmers are not hitting target weights and that the number of animals that present for calving at two years of age is only 47% of the animals born two years before.
Another paper presented at the Positive Farmers conference pointed out the amount of land in Ireland that is not fully used. This is down to a number of reasons, but interestingly subsidies and milk quotas have contributed to this. In a world that needs more food and in an economy that needs more income, land should not be underperforming.
Farmer Focus Livestock: Jim Dwyer