The ground is starting to dry up in Clara already this week, with very little rain accumulated over the past two weeks. Growth rates are slowing rapidly and grass is already starting to look a bit stressed with colour moving quickly from a bright healthy green colour to a pale yellow tone.

We have a lot of after-grass at the right stage on the milking platform that the cows will be grazing over the next week or two, so we are well enough set up for the moment. We would need some more rain soon to keep quality feed ahead of cows through the second half of June.

We cut some strong grass on the platform last week and we will cut another two paddocks this week. It is gone too strong for the milkers and we have enough feed on hand for the moment without it. We may end up feeding bales back to milkers in a few weeks but this grass is just too strong to leave in the wedge.

The second-cut silage ground is another option with some fields within striking distance of the parlour, so we might strip graze some of that ground if necessary, and if grass quality holds in those fields towards the middle of the month.

Another drought like 2018 would be a disaster this year with input costs where they are. However, we have a lot more feed on hand this year than we had in 2018 after a much milder winter and a good growing season through most of May.

Breeding season is progressing well enough but with a few more repeats than we would like in the cows. It’s all beef AI from here on in.

We’ve used a small amount of Belgian Blue and Charolais straws over the last two weeks but it’s all Angus and Aubrac for the rest of this month on the later calvers.

We will have a couple of young Friesian bulls running with the cows as well for the last three weeks to help to pick up any cows that aren’t holding to the AI straw for whatever reason.

It is disappointing to see the breakdown of where some calves from our national dairy herd are ending up

It will be interesting to see what percentage of the cows hold to the bulls versus what holds to AI. We could use beef bulls, but just feel that the Friesians are a bit more active and less susceptible to lameness, with less weight to carry around.

The plan is to sell all calves born after 1 March as quickly as possible and to get finished with calf rearing by the end of April next year.

It is disappointing to see the breakdown of where some calves from our national dairy herd are ending up. There is no point in trying to bury our heads in the sand on this and trying to ignore it.

A significant number of calves die on farm or are slaughtered at a young age, another significant number are exported for veal and another cohort are sold for very small money on farm or at the mart.

Most of those calves are costing dairy farmers significant money to get them to the stage where they are ready to travel off farm. They also have a carbon footprint cost from the pregnancy that could be diluted over a full carcase if they were a viable proposition for a beef farmer to rear to a decent age.

Some quality issues can be fixed with beef bull selection and sexed semen, some may need more significant changes. Advice has moved towards only sexed Jersey straws recently, for instance, but maybe only sexed semen or high DBI (Dairy Beef Index) bulls should be used on Jersey-cross cows also.

Our consumers are very well informed now about what happens on farm. They may have a different perspective on what is acceptable practice on farm to what some farmers might have.

We need to acknowledge that and, while we can’t bow to all of those demands, we do need to fully interrogate our production system and minimise the red flags.

As an industry, we sell some high value premium products to affluent countries with a strong social conscience. The alternative is to sell low value commodities to countries that accept lower standards in the production system.