Farmer Focus: Grazing going well but scours rears its head

The cows went out by day at Millands on 20 March and then out day and night with 275 cows at the second spring unit, Netherlands, on 1 April. However, nobody was best pleased with the snow two days later.

Calving has gone OK and we were 76% through at almost six weeks in.

The pre-calver cake works to prevent milk fever and helps colostrum quality, although getting cows on grass does the best job of that.

We test the colostrum and are now getting more than 25mg/ml of immunoglobulins on the Brix reader regularly.

An issue with rotavirus in the second calf shed has come as a reminder of the importance of colostrum quality.

See also: How to manage colostrum and minimise calf losses

All the cows are vaccinated to raise active antibodies against E.coli, rotavirus and coronavirus.

All calves are tubed with 3.5l of colostrum within six hours, but we were still seeing some bad scours.

So, as calving cows have gone to grass, and colostrum has improved, we have created a clean break and started in the next calf shed early. Fingers crossed this knocks it on the head.

Since going full time at grass, cows have settled down to 25 litres (4.1% butterfat) from 3kg of concentrate.

Dry weather and plentiful grass have given us the confidence to push for litres from grass, although extra litres are not worth feeding for through April to June as we are on a seasonality contract with Muller.

Grass growth has picked up, from averaging 22kgDM/day to 45kg for the week preceding 12 April, so we are already closing up for an early cut of silage that will go to the autumn herd.

Our assistant manager is moving on to manage a smaller herd of cows in his own right. So I am dealing with staff recruitment this week.

I have now decided that Burns Suppers are overly reverential.

Recently, the local rugby club had a supper in celebration of a Scottish poet by the name of McGonigal – widely acclaimed to be Scotland’s worst poet.

The whole event ran in reverse – from port to soup – and we all had a fantastic night from finish to start.


Read more about Ayrshire dairy farmer Wallace Hendrie