Richard Hinchion

24 July 2002

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


WE are supposed to be in the middle of summer, but we are still awaiting for it to arrive. I can safely say that 2002 is an " anus horriblus" as regards farming and the weather.

Up to mid-July grass growth rates were 20-30% below normal, so grass supply has been a delicate balance. The sun is now appearing more often between the showers and this is showing an improvement in grass growth.

Early cutting of silage on Jun 1 afforded us the chance to spread all the slurry, but it has taken six weeks for the aftermath to be fit for grazing. We plan to cut a smaller second cut this year, releasing more grass into the system.

Now grass is starting to take off and aftermaths are in the system, we plan to give 24-36 hours allocation of grass to cows to see if we can improve our protein % for the rest of the year. Our June results were 3.58% Butterfat and 3.3% protein, yielding a net milk price of 27.14 cents/litre (17.3p/litre). Cows are averaging 26 litres on 2kg of pulp mix ration.

We are determined to get the grass quality right by topping paddocks, even though it will slow down the grazing rotation. We are also spreading some compound fertiliser, as we feel our badly poached ground needs P and K to help root development and tillering.

We are planning to finish breeding on July 22. We scanned 10 cows we had doubts about and three proved not in calf. We injected them, so hopefully all 48 cows will be in-calf by end of July.

Our young calves have had a pneumonia problem during the wet weather, taking its toll on weaker calves. We housed them for two weeks and fed them well to beef them up. But this did the trick and they are back outdoors.

Now the kids are on school holidays, I hope the sun will shine so that we can go to Garretstown beach or away for a day trip. &#42

Grass growth rates are making grazing management tricky

for Richard Hinchion.

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