Farmer Focus: Good to see more Irish bulls on UK market

Here we are facing another lockdown. Cases in Ayrshire are higher than ever.

We have had our first staff member isolating because of a family member getting Covid-19. It’s clear no one knows the answer, but shutting restaurants and businesses that are doing a great job of managing Covid risk isn’t it.

As farmers, we have been relatively untouched. Income streams have been steady, beef prices good and we have all the space we need to move around in.

October had a great start – mild and plenty of grass. However, the past two weeks have been pretty rough, meaning we had to close up on 29 October with some good covers left for spring.

Usually, we would try to eat this all off, as spring doesn’t usually kick off until mid-March, but we shall see what a new year brings.

See also: More from our Livestock Farmer Focus writers

Autumn calving is nearly over. Yield has been good, and we are pushing yield from forage this winter with some fantastic silages. This has been hampered this year by a lack of water pressure.

Artificial insemination begins on the heifers this week, with cows starting next.

We have too many this year, as we have a lot of rollovers from spring – beef only on these ladies, I think.

It’s good to see a decent selection of high Economic Breeding Index bulls from Ireland available on the UK market as more appreciate the benefits of the focused breeding program that the Irish system offers.

More than two thirds of spring-born calves are meeting the target weight, which is a great result for us as we still had some scour issues in some of the calves. We should be able to catch up by the spring – 2kg of concentrates should do it.

Good news: milk prices are moving in the right direction for us this November.

And in December we look forward to a bonus through the Muller Direct Farm Insight Programme – a costings, benchmarking and health and welfare assessment scheme

We are becoming an AHDB Strategic Dairy Farm and have had our first online meeting. It seemed pretty painless, but we weren’t the ones watching it.

We are looking to improve on herd fertility as it really holds us back from our overall herd improvement strategy.