Richard Hinchion

19 October 2001

Richard Hinchion

Richard Hinchion milks 60

dairy cows and rears 40

replacements on 34ha (83

acres) at Crookstown, west

of Cork city, in southern

Ireland. With a fixed quota

of just over 300,000 litres,

the emphasis is on low-cost

production. Cows yield

6000 litres from 650kg of


THE weather in September was beautiful, so good that we experienced a drought on our farm and no grass growth for 10-14 days. Now, in early October, we are experiencing vast amounts of rainfall, up to 25mm (1in) some days, but mild so far.

Our grass quality has been excellent, with high dry matter contents making animals happy. But grass covers are diminishing rapidly because of lack of growth in mid-September. Nitrogen spreading stopped on Sept 25, so round bales may have to be fed to lengthen our rotation up to 40 days. The last grazing rotation started on Oct 5 and cows are cleaning fields well so far.

The herd produced 622 litres/day in September and butterfat and protein shot up to 4.04% and 3.61%, respectively. Now they are yielding 18 litres/cow a day.

Our quota is also filling rapidly, so we sold seven older in-calf cows to reduce numbers for next year and first lactation heifers and thin cows will be dried off from mid-October. This should give them a chance to build up condition score and because they will dry off outdoors, infections should be reduced.

Our reseeded silage field has suffered from drought stress, which was compounded by my bunny friends grazing it freely. So I took drastic action. I organised for my friend Jim Curtain, from the local gun club, Peter Lyons and his four-wheel drive, and myself to shoot rabbits in the evenings – our tally was 520. So with rain and less rabbits, the grass seed is starting to close in and we hope to manage a light grazing in November.

All calves are receiving 1.5kg of citrus pulp and in-calf heifers will get some supplementation in mid-October to keep them on target weight.

With winter fast approaching, we are putting finishing touches to winter housing to be ready if the weather gets much worse.

Now nights are getting longer, I have enrolled on a basic computer course organised by Teagasc to improve my lack of skills. Next I will have to start learning how to type faster. &#42

Richard Hinchion is considering feeding round bales of silage to lengthen the grazing rotation.

See more