Gerald Murphy

1 May 1998

Gerald Murphy

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


I was frankly jealous reading farmers weekly recently where articles were talking about grass surpluses while we have been in grass deficit. The weather for the past month has been appalling with conditions that would give rise to complaint in January and, unfortunately, we are without forage stocks.

For most of the past month we have been feeding 10-15kg of Brewers grains plus 5-6kg of concentrate. At the moment we are feeding 15kg of molasses. The concentrate portion of the mix is costing £93/t and the Brewers £18/t. While the mix is relatively cheap, it is still much more expensive a cow a day than last year when we were feeding 4kg of Brewers, plus weather-dependent quantities of maize and no concentrates.

With the weather the way it is all thoughts of maize sowing have been severely dampened. I havent seen any figures but I would guess from the poor grass growth that soil temperatures are far below the 10C that the experts talk about. This will be our latest year to sow maize since 1993. For this year all of our maize has been moved to new sites and we are expecting increased performance and drastically reduced weed control costs.

We are going to sow mainly Hussar. This will be our third year with this variety but it has served us well and it performed very well in a local trial last year with second best DM, best % starch and digestibility and a solid middle of the road yield. We will also try two others – Semira and Avenir -which have shown a higher DM yield with good DM, starch and digestibility. With a bit of luck we will get the maize sown by May 1 although with the way the weather has been going lately I wouldnt put any money on it. &#42

Cold, wet weather has meant a grass deficit for Gerald Murphy.

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