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
THE cows finally went out on Feb 10. At the moment they are only out for about three to four hours a day. Its a good job they went out when they did because we were just starting to get into a mastitis problem after a trouble-free winter. However once they were out to grass for three to four days all the cases were cleared up and there have been none since.
Even getting the cows out for a few hours seems to make a huge difference to the environment in the buildings. It can be quite hard to adjust the cow ration to take account of the contribution of grass to the diet – in the first few days we were consistently wrong.
We took out too much in the first few days when the cows were treating their time outside as R&R and eating very little and then as we were adjusting up they were adjusting down so that we came in one morning and they had more than 0.5t of feed left.
I think in future we will leave the diet alone for the first five days to a week after turnout and then start to make adjustments. At this stage – two and a half weeks after turnout – we have taken almost 5kg silage dry matter out of the fresh calvers diet. We will continue to take out silage until we are feeding no grass silage and then we will start to change over to a more buffer type feed.
We have finally taken the plunge and bought a computer. If memory serves me correctly the subject was first broached in 1985 so as you can see we havent rushed into anything. We bought a complete package including computer, printer and internet access for one year.
What sold us on this package was that it is Department of Agriculture- approved so all duplication of records is gone. We only have to register a calf birth once and then print off a registration form that the department will accept.
Beef premium applications can be done in seconds and are mistake-free – the computer will not allow you to send in an application for ineligible cattle or to get a tag number wrong. The programme knows the serialisation of the tags for every herd in the country and will not allow you to input an incorrect letter or digit. *
Gerald Murphys cows went out on Feb 10, but adjusting the ration accordingly proved to be a challenge.