Our family farm is located on Loop Head, Co. Clare, writes Seamus Considine, That’s Farming’s newest dairy contributor.
It is a peninsula from which you can see the Shannon Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean. We farm right out to the cliff face and I am the fifth-generation to take the reins here.
I went to Pallaskenry Agricultural College and worked on other farms when I finished my studies. In 2015, I began a partnership with my father on the family farm and at that time, we were milking 40 cows.
We are currently milking 56 cows, we have 2 bulls, 16 heifers and 20 calves. We should have sold 8 more calves, but Covid-19 had different ideas.
I have plans to increase numbers in the coming years. Next year I should be milking 64 cows and that will do for now. The goal would be to max out at 72 cows.
Our current yield as of June 5th was an average of 26.5-litres butterfat at 4.12 protein; fat: 3.46; SCC: 85 and lactose 4.83. I am trying to increase overall milk solids and cow longevity.
Improving heat detection
I purchased the SCR Heatime collars this year to help improve heat detection and I also hope to remove the need for a bull on the home farm. Hopefully, that will make the farm safer.
Our breeding season started on April 20th with sexed semen on my best cows and Belgian-Blue on my biggest and plainest cows.
On April 27th, I started breeding all other stock, with a mix of Friesian, Fleckvieh, Dairy Shorthorn for replacements and I am using Beef Shorthorn, Limousin and Belgian Blue.
Fleckviehs are something different for me and around here, but so far, they produce a higher yield cow and are very docile animals. My current Fleckvieh calves are very relaxed, which is great when moving them.
We are six-and-a-half-weeks into our breeding, and I am very happy with the SCR Heatime collars. I find them very accurate and a big-time saver in heat detection.
I get a text message when a cow is in heat, but more importantly, it allows me to keep an eye on cow health. It allows me to see rumination, grazing and activity.
If a cow is sick or off form, the collar will pick it up before I would notice in the parlour.
On June 5th, I let our mop-up bull out with the cows; this will be the last year we have a bull here, with a view to being 100% AI from next year onwards.
We also have a pedigree Friesian bull from the Kilsunny herd, Kilsunny Potter, running with 16 heifers in a rented-out farm. We have called him Tarzan for the fun of it and hopefully, he will stick around for 3 years to run with heifers. The other bull is known as Buddy.
Next week, I will give a run through on silage, grazing and the impacts of the long dry spell.
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