Gerald Murphy runs a 107ha
(275-acre) farm in partner-
ship with his parents in
County Waterford on the
south-east coast of Ireland.
Dairying is the main
enterprise with emphasis on
milk from grass. The mainly
all-grass unit carries 110
Holstein Friesian cows and
also grows forage maize and
cereals for home
OUR cows were finally housed on Nov 24 and we had to abandon 18 days grazing. If the remaining area to be grazed was drier we would have tried to graze it. The weather has started to dry up again and we may yet turn out the stale cows again to grass it off, but the fresh cows look to be in until the spring – hopefully early February.
The benefits of making top-quality silage are really being seen on the farm this year. Even though it is slightly more expensive to make, intake and performance are much better, but you have to allow these better forages perform.
Last year we had first cut of very similar quality but fed far too much concentrate and because of this we cost ourselves a lot of money. We had forage intakes of around 11kg, excluding 2kg DM from brewers grains.
This year we are getting forage intakes of 15kg excluding 2kg DM from brewers grains. We are getting forage intakes of 14kg DM, and while performance a cow is back this year by about 2 litres, concentrates are back from 9.8 to 6.8kg.
Last years additional milk would pay for the extra concentrates, but we would be giving a miller an extra 41p a cow a day to get an extra 15p for ourselves and this extra 15p would be before any vet bills.
I havent gone through the health records in any detail but there always seemed to be a couple of cows being milked into the churn throughout last winter, mainly with feet problems which need antibiotic treatment.
This year, even though it is early days yet, we have had no difficulties. I havent even seen any cows walking tenderly.
With that much said we are more or less on target to supply our main quota and slightly ahead on our winter milk quota. If we were running under quota our perspective might well be different, when milk in the tank is milk in the tank no matter how marginally it was put there, especially if it is on leased quota.n
Gerald Murphy is seeing the benefits of quality silage, with more milk, reduced concentrates and fewer health concerns.