Farm life is relatively straightforward at the moment. The cows are getting a combination of hay, silage or straw over a week.
It sounds more complicated than it actually is. They get a bale of silage in front of them, which usually lasts a pen four to five days and a bale of hay or straw the other days.
The reason for the mix is to keep them in good condition and not get over fat.
Unless there’s a surprise, calving is still six weeks away. The heifers are first up, with 80% of them due before the cows come near starting.
There are no cows due before St Patrick’s Day
This means we can give them time, if needed, to bond with calves without holding up any space in the calving area. It also means they’ll be able to get out to grass earliest and can remain in a single group, making them easier to manage.
There are no cows due before St Patrick’s Day, so the month following that will be the busiest time. Having said that, I suspect a share of the cows will pull forward a few days.
With temperatures predominantly in double figures since November, there have been a serious few weeks of grass growth. It’s reached the point where some paddocks may need to be grazed before even considering putting slurry on them.
With cows now calving later in the year, the grazing plans have had to change.
The heifer calves that won’t be going for breeding were kept at the cow yard and they’ll get the first rotation up and running.
The other benefit of keeping them near home is that it frees up the ground at the other yard to get the replacement heifers out to grass earlier.
When they were all together, it wasn’t possible to get them all out at once, meaning some were held back a little at a time when you want to see them push on.
There’s a local saying around here that January grass is seldom eaten
If conditions remain as they are for another few weeks, they could get out sooner rather than later.
There’s a local saying around here that January grass is seldom eaten. Salt spray blown by winds off the sea can see good covers of grass go backwards and when stock do get out, they tend to walk it into the ground if it’s too long.
Unless there are blizzard conditions it might be an option to put a handful of the lightest of the replacements out and keep them out.
All those plans and options are on hold until the January TB test is out of the way
Given the lack of manners on the group that will be going for finishing, I’ll probably do on-off grazing with them for a week or so at least. They have become very vocal in the mornings if I fail to give them ration first, so hopefully they will be the same when they get out.
All those plans and options are on hold until the January TB test is out of the way. From a work perspective, it should be the easier of the two tests we require to go clear, as all animals are housed at the moment.
There will be a good share of stock out by the March test, but in order to make things easier, I’ll be considering an on-off grazing for those and offer a small bit of ration to entice them into the houses in the evening.
There was a glimmer of hope regarding TB. The two reactors from the test in November killed out negative, so hopefully things go ok for the herd.