The rain arrived just in time in Clara to keep silage out of the diet of the milking cows for another few weeks.
We grazed a few paddocks of aftergrass from the planned second cut to get over the deficit rather than feeding out bales and that was enough to pull us through this time.
We had to increase meal feeding to 5kg for a week to help bridge the gap and we will just hold that in now for a few days until conditions and growth settle down again.
The rest of the second-cut silage will be left to bulk up a bit now and is earmarked for dry cows over the winter. We have enough good-quality silage in the yard for milkers and youngsters, so some bulky material will be sufficient this time.
Hopefully the weather will settle down now again and give us a good summer. This round of rain should set us up well for most of July and well into the second half of the grazing season and take the pressure off for the moment.
The breeding season is winding down now as well. We have a few bulls still running with cows and heifers but we probably won’t milk any of these cows next year. They can be fattened and culled or maybe if there’s a decent market, we can sell a batch of late calvers at some stage.
We did nine weeks of AI including a crossover with the bulls for three weeks, so it’s time for a break.
Hopefully we have all bases covered this way and we can get an empty rate down in the single figures.
We took the opportunity with breeding, feeding and silage squared away for the moment to take a few days of holidays with the family to recharge the batteries after a busy spring.
It’s also a good time to reflect on the last few years on the farm. It’s been a steady sustained period of growth in the operation.
Growth in a business is great, but it comes with its challenges
Most of the heavy lifting is done now, and we can hopefully see the business settle down and run a bit more smoothly over the next few years.
Growth in a business is great, but it comes with its challenges. We are probably seeing a similar story across most dairy farms that grew quickly since 2015.
There is a dip in milk production this year and growth will probably be slow enough from here on.
Most people are ready to consolidate at a level now, to let herds mature and to get back towards the level of profitability and efficiency that was there pre-expansion.
We could probably say the same about our milk processors.
The sustained period of growth had plenty of growing pains and hidden costs.
Hopefully as we settle into a period of consolidation now, we can see efficiencies improve in that side of the business too and all of our investment both on-farm and off-farm will start to pay off.