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HomeDairyDairy Update: 'Cows will be out full-time from now on'
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Dairy Update: ‘Cows will be out full-time from now on’

Name: Patrick Mc Carthy

Age: 36-years-old

Farm: Milking 48 cross-bred Jersey cows

Cows were turned out to grass on February 4th – cows will be out full-time from now on, weather-permitting.

I will feed 6kgs of meal per cow, along with grass and silage will be taken out of the diet. If the weather turns and they are only getting 3 to 4 hours grazing, I will reintroduce silage to their diets.  

Also, I am very happy with the post-grazing cover – Cows are getting a good-sized block in daily allocation to minimise poaching.

Grass budget 06/02/20

  • Farm cover = 934
  • Cover/lu = 653
  • Cows = 26
  • Lu/hecture = 1.43
  • Demand = 17
  • Grass = 12
  • Meal = 4
  • Silage = 2
  • Target intake = (18kgs)

Milk results – 31/01/20

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  • Butterfat = 4.89
  • Protein = 3.79
  • SCC = 378
  • Meal = 6kgs/ 16% dairy nut. 


  • Butterfat = 4.87
  • Protein = 3.56
  • SCC = 97
  • Meal = 6kgs

I am happy enough overall with the results. As you can see, my first collection was high in terms of somatic cell count, but I know the problem cow and I am now treating her for sub-clinical mastitis. With her removed, SCC dropped to where I thought it should be on OAD.

Protein and butterfat are very good considering their diet consisted of silage and meal. I would be confident those figures would have been higher if the cows were out on grass.

There is no yield figure because calves are being fed milk and cows are calving, so it is, therefore, difficult to get an accurate yield over the last few days. I will go back to twice-a-day milking over the next few days.


As a farmer, I do and have made mistakes. A recent mistake I made was leaving my cows out on grass on February 4th.

Unfortunately, I miscalculated the block allocation I gave them and the length of time they were out grazing. I brought them in and they got meal that evening and no silage.

I have learnt a lesson – I need to be more careful and make sure cows get accurate intake levels after calving. Grass is important but there is nothing wrong with giving cows access to silage as well.

So, my plan for the next week is to let cows out day and night and they will be on 6kgs of meal; they will be brought back in at around 11 or 12pm and they will have access to silage for the rest of the night.

Grass covers

As I’m calving that bit earlier, I need a higher opening farm cover. My target opening farm cover every year is 800 to 900 and while I am still playing around with the figures, but I am happy with the current levels.

I don’t like making any major decisions until I do two budgets at the start of the year, so, not much will change for another week.

I completed my first farm walk of 2020 on Thursday – it is vital for me to know what the average farm cover is so I can make more accurate decisions in relation to how much meal should be fed.

I need to keep myself on target to have 33% of the farm grazed for March 1st. 

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