Johnstown Castle Winter Milk Herd
Management Notes 08/06/20
Total Rainfall for the month of May was 17.7mm, with soil temp around the 10 year avg. of 11.4°C. Just 2.0mm rainfall in June to date, so we are in a drought situation for most of the farm – some of the heavier soil types still grew ~ more than 40kgs last week, but the drier paddocks stood still with a few loosing grass, leaving us with an average growth rate across most treatments of ~30kgs/dm/Day. Soil moisture deficits are around 65.
We have 4 treatment “herds” on the farm at present, along with a general herd, our plan for all herds during drought conditions is to maintain a rotation length of ~ 22 days, if there’s not enough grass in that area for the day, then we have make up the shortfall with silage or concentrate or both. I see no point in trying to extend rotation length beyond the normal in a scenario where some paddocks might be losing grass – graze it when it’s there! We had blanket spread 25kgs/N 14 days ago, plan would be to go again next week, assuming we get some of the rain that’s forecast for this weekend (probably spread only 20kgs). If we get no rain, we won’t spread.
Extensive Autumn treatment stocked at 2.75LU/ha, have had no issues up to now – pre-mowed a couple of plots that we would have targeted for surplus, the extra land area is saving this herd up to now – we have silage after-grass ground which I expect we’ll l pull in for grazing within the next 5/6 days, this should see us ok for another 10 days or so, before we’ll have to supplement hard if we don’t get significant rainfall. Feeding just 2kgs conc to this group at present. Target winter silage of ~1.4T dm/cow, we have ~40% of this requirement. I’m happy with milk performance (1.82kgs MS @ 240days in milk).
Multi-species Grass/Clover Spring herd. stocked at 2.75LU/ha, This herd have had adequate forage up to now, growth rates have been similar up to the last week, they appear to be significantly higher on this herd over the past week at ~ 40kgs, this might be a result of the better drought resistance of the multi-species swards – we’ll know more if this pattern continues over the next week or two, cows have been happy grazing the multi-species, clean out has been excellent. We have some silage ground coming back in & we’re ok for at least another week with this herd (possibly longer if growth rates hold up). Current performance is back a bit compared to Grass/clover (2.18 v 1.96), but for the year to date the multi species are actually a little ahead so far. Target silage conserved is same as grass/clover, but we’ve only 24% of requirement made yet.
Grass/Clover Spring herd. stocked at 2.75LU/ha, Again this herd have had adequate grass supply up to now (this will change over the next week or so given growth rates of 20 or less, but the lower stocking rate & grass coming back in after silage will see them ok for another week at least, if drought conditions persist we will increase concentrate& pull in all area to the grazing platform, a target of ~1.4t silage DM/cow, with 42% of this made. Milk performance is good at 2.18kgs ms/cow, feeding 3kgs concentrate.
Intensive Autumn treatment stocked at 4LU/ha, in big trouble, feeding silage for past 10 days along with 5kgs concentrate, target would be to conserve ~ 0.5T Dm/cow of grass silage for winter period –only 13% of that requirement made yet (& feeding silage at 8kgs/day at present). Milk performance holding up very well.
Breeding season for the spring herds has gone well to date (5 weeks in, all heifers served & all bar 2 cows) Moving to beef sired Ai this week. Our scan of the autumn herd came in with an empty rate of ~13% overall, it’s ok but is a little higher than we would have hoped, following two years of <10% empty, (this is off an 11 week breeding season).
The lack of rainfall is beginning to cause a few headaches, but since Patrick’s day (when we were swamped with water!) grazing conditions have been excellent and very easy to manage, so if we could get some of that March rain back for a few days we’d be grand!