Farmer Focus: Housed cows managing the best in the heat

So far, 2018 is certainly proving to be the year of extremes. We are trying not to get too concerned by the current heatwave because, as we have already experienced this year, things can change very quickly.

You just have to look at our maize. It went in in tough conditions but with it being river ground there is plenty of retained moisture and the crop has taken off.

Heat stress

Heat stress is an interesting one. The grazing cows appear to be suffering more than the housed cows in this weather.

The new shed is 18ft to the eaves and I think this has really helped keep cows cool. We are still debating whether the older buildings would work as well in the summer, although we are toying with grazing the lows half days as they have lost a bit of condition and not maintained the milk quite as we had hoped. 

See also: How to protect dairy yields by tackling heat stress in cows

Farm visits

I have been fortunate enough to go on a couple of trips in the past six weeks with our Kite-run discussion group.

We are a group of about 20 young farmers based across the country and we look to go on three-to-four two-day visits a year to individuals farms. On these trips we share figures and get to critique each individual’s farm.

I find it incredibly insightful, but also very refreshing as you soon realise we all share common problems and solutions are often found. It is also a great laugh, and the overnight stay allows for a good meal, a few drinks and plenty of banter.

The trips were very different; one to Scotland – very much a housed year-round system – and the other in Devon – an autumn block-calving grazing system.

Both operations were a credit to their owners and it confirmed to me the key to this success lies nearly all in the passion and drive of the individual to make their chosen system work.

I think we were all surprised to see the Muller milk price hold for August. With costs on the rise, this has surely got to come under pressure heading into the autumn.