Livestock Farmer Focus: Jim Dwyer is waiting for the grass to grow

We’re well into May and we still haven’t had our usual burst of growth, except in the first week of the month. We are only growing 67kgs dm/day when we should be growing 90kgs, at least. The poor growth rates can be down to hard frosts at night and although we are having sunny days – which mean we have good utilisation – we are still not getting enough growth.

Our solids have come up from a very low base at the beginning of the year with fat at 4.1% and protein at 3.4%, giving us milk solids of 1.7kg a day. We are disappointed with this, but hopefully it will improve with increasing temperatures. Breeding is in full swing and we are happy how cows are cycling, despite a hard spring.

It seems as if we have only just left winter, but we must now start thinking of our feed supply for the next. The fodder beet is well up, our reseeded pastures are growing well, we have just sown kale crops and we need silage crops to bulk up to give us sufficient feed.

Our milk processor Glanbia is divided into a co-op and a plc with the co-op owning 54% of the plc. We had the opportunity recently to buy the plc and it had to be passed by a 75% majority of the members attending the meeting. It only got a 73% vote.

It was a great opportunity to take control of our milk processing. But what amazed me was that approximately one third of the milk suppliers did not even turn up to vote. Farmers are quick to complain, but slow to act when their destiny is in their own hands.