Seamus Considine farms 56 dairy cows in partnership with his father in Co. Clare.
Herd performance: Litres: 26.9; Butterfat: 4.1; Protein: 3.49; SCC: 91.
I think everyone is thinking about grass, talking about grass, worrying about grass, or trying to grow grass this week.
Our discussion group meeting last week centred around grass and grassland management strategies. Not that we always agree on some points, but there are things to be learnt or problems teased out in a friendly group.
We cut our pit silage on May 14th – If anyone wants to see it, see Olivia Charles Photography’s video on YouTube here.
I am happy with the yield – If I had left it to grow much longer, it would have all gone to seed.
I have not got it tested yet, but I am expecting silage to be of very good quality.
We cut the grass, let it wilt for 24 hours and the local contractor did the silage for me using a self- propelled harvester.
We do not add molasses or anything – It’s just raw natural home-grown grass.
The right decision for my farm
I spread three bags of Goulding’s 24-2.5-10 to the acre, 7- weeks before I cut it. I wanted to do this to allow the nutrients to be absorbed into the soil.
I chose Goulding’s because I want to buy Irish and I know the nearest factory is in Limerick. At a time like this, we must support our local suppliers and support Irish jobs.
In the last number of weeks, I have been wondering whether or not cutting was the right thing to do – should I have included some of it in my grazing rotation instead, should I have cut less, should I have done something different?
However, I think I made the right decision for my farm.
I am no expert, but I did some calculations on cost of silage VS meal for buffer feeding on my farm.
If I fed two bales a day, that would cost me roughly €30/day, whereas an extra 5kgs of meal would cost about €75/day.
I decided to start buffer-feeding cows with 2 bales of silage on May 27th and I gave them an extra 2 kgs of meal in the parlour and I continued for 5 days.
I was then offered some zero-grazing so I pulled another 3 days with that. Then, I returned to normal grazing and I cut 1kg out of the diet as well.
I use a plate meter for grass measuring and I think this helped me spot the reduction in growth rates earlier.
Being on a peninsula, we are vulnerable to the weather. On May 22nd, a windstorm caused some of the sea water to blow onto the farm and burn the grass.
This, followed by the warm dry spell, meant grass was burnt from the top down and drought-like conditions causing grass to die from the bottom.
Like everyone else, I have been closely watching the weather watching all the rainfall and indeed, using the Met Éireann weather app, to see closely accurate information on predicted rainfall.
Slurry is something I had an abundance of over the winter. I even had to ask a neighbor to store some water in his outfarm.
I spread 3,000 gallons of slurry to the acre after the first-cut. I took my chance and spread slurry on paddocks that had been grazed tight on the farm.
I reseeded a paddock on April 20th. Growth in this paddock has been very slow and the grass went straight to seed, so I topped it and spread slurry on that too.
Currently, there is about 11 days grass ahead of the cows and hopefully, with the rain that should increase further.
If you want to follow the farm daily, see Instagram.
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