Farmer Focus: Cow efficiency versus seasonality payments

I’m just back from another eating out experience on a Monday night as me and my tight chums seem to have moved the weekend into Mondays and Tuesdays. Boris has really made things busy up here.

Weather has been decidedly patchy. It’s very difficult to get any silage made without a clear forecast and now the ground is getting soft.

There is still 38ha of third cut to get. It’s not essential, but better to have it than not. Looking back, it has been a fantastic grass-growing year, even better than last. 

See also: How investing in a forage merger has improved silage quality

The autumn block started calving in the third week in August. We’ve been pushing the start date back, ignoring the loss in seasonality payments for the gain in cow efficiency.

Trying to push fresh calved cows out on to grass in September means they can’t get enough energy density in the diet and miss the peak of their lactation. This is certainly the case in sunny Ayrshire anyway. 

We are still able to strip graze the pre-calvers and calve outside, but conditions will now mean bringing them in on wet days to keep up dry-matter intakes and reduce pasture damage.

I’m needing some dry weather to get ahead with soil sampling. We are still low on calcium to balance up the magnesium to 6:1. I would like to push pH up to 6.5 across the whole farm to get better nutrient release, fertiliser efficiency and introduce more clover.

I do need a wee moan this week. How do the milk buyers think it’s OK to have aligned and non-aligned contracts at 5p/litre differential? It seems nuts.

I suppose it’s an inevitability of too much milk in the country and an inability of the industry to find new products to make profit out of cheap milk.

It was great to see more data coming out to support grass-based dairy in the UK and Ireland using half the soya per litre of our EU counterparts.

It is a far better story to tell our consumers of a natural home-produced nutrient-dense food. If only my milk buyer would get on the bandwagon.

Read more about Ayrshire dairy farmer Wallace Hendrie