The following article is published in Lakeland Dairies / Teagasc Joint Development Programme’s innovative and informative 28-page booklet.
The booklet contains recommendations, tips and case studies, aimed at making farm life easier for Lakeland Dairies’ milk suppliers.
Mortimer O’Sullivan is milking 115 cows in Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath. He has altered his approach towards the use of contractors since his herd has expanded.
Mortimer finds it is best to spend time on excellent grassland management and good cow and calf health rather than on tractors.
I treat my contractor like my part-time labour unit on my farm now. In days gone past, I did all our own slurry with a 1,6000-gallon tanker. We did our own fertiliser, our own silage, muck spreading and reseeding with family help. Things have changed a lot since that.
I now get the contractor with the umbilical piping system in January emptying about 20% of the total slurry.
I often spent three or four days covering the first and second cut silage ground. A phone call and a contractor in the yard for six hours gets more slurry spread.
At the minute, I only handle 10% of the slurry on a few paddocks.
I have a farm map which is great to show contractors which paddocks to spread. The first round of urea, along with the 1st and 2nd cut fertiliser applications is done with a phone call. In the past, spreading the silage ground took me two days.
The first cut silage application was in the middle of calving which is busy enough and the second cut application is in the middle of breeding season, the most important season. Building up a good contractor relationship is critical for a successful farm.
For jobs such as muck spreading, I give the contractor plenty of notice; this means he can fit the job in when it suits him.
2) Farm maps
Simple farm maps will help give clear instructions of what is to be done and where it is to be done.
3) Consistency of work
I like to have a contractor in the yard every four weeks to six weeks, so I can keep them informed of my next plans, reseeding, hedge cutting, baling et
Image source: Lakeland Dairies / Teagasc Joint Development Programme