Gerald Murphy runs a 107ha
(275-acre) farm in partner-
ship with his parents in
County Waterford, Ireland.
Dairying is the main
enterprise with emphasis on
milk from grass. The mainly
all-grass unit carries 110
Holstein Friesian cows.
I LEARNT something new this year when the maize was being sown – always look at the bags to check the pack size.
Our supplier has also learnt the same lesson. When I was ordering the maize seed I asked for 44-acre packs of Hussar and 4-acre packs of Semira.
The maize seed duly arrived and everything seemed to be in order. When the seeder was gone I could not figure out why there were four packs left over, as seeders are usually very accurate. The reason was that the Semira was in 1.75-acre packs and no one had noticed.
We got the maize sown over the May bank holiday weekend in the first spell of good weather for a month. The weather has been good since and the maize has done well with a quick germination and the best early growth I have seen while we have been growing the crop, which I think is mainly linked to the change in sites. This is also our first year to grow maize without any organic fertiliser.
We had all the land selected for maize tested, and the recommendations came back showing we needed K on only one field and in all the rest we used tri-ammonium phosphate (18% N, 20%P) at 50-75kg/acre plus 100kg of urea. The field that needed the K also received similar treatment.
Grass growth is up to normal at last, although we had to wait two weeks for covers to increase before we took out the brewers grains and concentrates. But when we removed the supplements, milk yield dropped more than expected, by 2-2.5 litres a day and so we are re-introducing some brewers grains and the beet pulp. It would seem to be cost effective at about £25 worth of supplement for £60 of milk. The limit for production from grass seems to be about 20-22 litres a day.
Our first-cut silage was taken on May 19, two weeks later than last years exceptionally early cut. Yields increased quickly in the week ahead of cutting but there was no heading, so we are expecting good quality silage. *
May is John Alpes favourite month because all the stock are out at grass.