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John Barry May/June Update 2023

Latest update

Latest update

  • Over half way through breeding season for spring herd
  • Some cows were synchronised that hadn’t shown signs of heat
  • Autumn herd scanning results
Rain has arrived!

Rain has arrived!

  • The farm cover is holding well at 710 kg DM/ha
  • Fertiliser was spread after the rain came
  • 23 units of nitrogen/acre are expected to be mineralised from the soil following the dry spell
Red clover mix has been sown

Red clover mix has been sown

  • Red clover mix has been sown in silage ground
  • 1 bag of 0-7-30 and FYM spread to boost K indexes
  • Seedlings are striking following rain


John started his breeding season on 29th April and will continue until mid-July. This year he is targeting a breeding season length of less than 12 weeks so the latest serve date will be 22nd July. He began by AI’ing heifers and cows for the first 7 weeks and has let the Charolais stock bull back with the herd for the remainder of the breeding season.

Charolais bull running with the spring herd on the farm

Figure 1: The Charolais bull is now running with the spring herd

John found that it was slow starting and that the poor weather in April was affecting the quality of heats in the herd. As such, he decided to inject 12 with prostaglandin which resulted in 5 being AI’d over the following days. A further 5 cows were synchronised using a CIDR and 4 were AI’d when they showed signs of heat after this. These cows were > 35 days calved, in good body condition score >2.5 and were on a good plane of nutrition at the time of breeding and for 4 weeks after (i.e. good quality grass).  He currently has 45 females AI’d and 5 late calvers are due to cycle after calving.

Recommended synchronisation protocol for cows

(GnRH: Receptal, Ovarelin / PG: Estrumate, Lutalyse, Enzaprost / ecG: Folligon PMSG, Synchrostim)

Figure 2: Recommended cow synchronisation protocol

John bought a FRX bull which was vasectomised on the farm. He will be running with the spring herd for the breeding season with a chin ball harness to help with heat detection. The chin ball is not working properly on the vasectomised bull, but he is helping John to pick up some cows that are in heat.

Vasectomised bull grazing on John's farm

Figure 3: Vasectomised bull with chin ball harness being used for heat detection

John picked mainly terminal AI bulls to use on the herd this spring, such as BB8019 and CH5932, but is also using SI4147 and ZEP (for heifers) which are good maternal bulls. He is also trying out sexed semen on his most maternal and earliest calving cows this year to try and breed more replacements from within his herd.

26 out of 32 cows were scanned in calf from the autumn herd after 10 weeks of a breeding season from 2nd November to 9th January, resulting in an 81% conception rate. John has bought in 5 in calf heifers to calve 31 females in the autumn.


Grass wedge

Figure 4: Grass wedge on 18th June 2023

John measured grass on his farm on 18th June. The growth rate since 2nd June was 40 kg DM/ha and the demand was 48 kg DM/ha. However he had a farm cover of 710 kg DM/ha which is on target for the time of year and also had 15 days of grass ahead which is close to the target 12-14 days. After the rain arrived on the farm, it is expected that 23 units of nitrogen per acre will be mineralised from the soil and John has seen growth visually increase since.

On 13th June he spread 20 units of 24-0-5 +4S to boost grass growth in the paddocks.

Main crop silage and surplus paddocks were cut on the farm between 22nd May and 15th June from 13 fields. The silage from the out block was put into the silage pit and bales were made from other fields, which John marked so that he can identify the best quality ones over winter. 75 bales of hay were also made.


The red clover mix was sown on the farm on 9th June at a rate of 15kg/acre. John sowed it in a silage field on his out block that is in index 4 for P and index 2 for K. The pH from the original soil sample in 2022 was 5.5 but John spread 2.5 t/acre of lime on it last August and expects that it rose the soil pH to 6.2. It will receive a further 2t/acre lime this summer to increase the soil pH to 6.8, which will be above the target pH 6.2.

The field was sprayed off 12 days before it was cut for hay. John’s contractor sowed the mix with a one-pass before rain was forecasted and the field was rolled afterwards. It received 1 bag per acre of 0-7-30 and farmyard manure was spread on it to boost the K indexes.

Seedlings are appearing across the field already. The mix contained 2.5kg of Aberclyde PRG, 2.5kg of Barwave PRG, 2.5kg Aberwolf PRG, 4kg Rozeta red clover and 0.5kg Alice white clover.

Red clover mix used

Figure 5: Red clover mix sowed on the farm

Clover seedlings striking in the reseeded field

Figure 6: Red clover seedlings striking in the reseeded silage field