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Shane and John P Fitzgerald - Portlaw East, Co. Waterford

Teagasc Glanbia Future Farm Focus

Go To: Weekly Updates

  • Shane and his father, John are farming 92Ha near Portlaw, Co. Waterford, of which 30Ha is leased.
  • They are currently milking 200 cows. The plan is to milk 210 cows.
  • The calving interval for the herd is 371 days with a six week calving rate of 88%.
Farm update February 2021

Overview of the Fitzgerald farm

Shane gives an overview of the farm and the sustainability steps being taken. He also talks about the importance of social sustainability.

Farm Updates



Litres / Cow







Milk solids
Day Kg


Farm cover

Cover / LU

Pre grazing
yield Kg/DM

Demand Kg

Growth Kg

August 27th 21.41 4.21 3.74 139 1.75 2.0 937 332 1600 49 78
August 11th 21.36 4.10 3.55 143 1.68 3.5 721 221 1400 50 72
July 14th 22.90 3.98 3.48 134 1.76 1.0 694 212 1400 60 72
June 21st 25.89 3.96 3.45 117 1.92 2.0 717 204 1300 60 65
Comment Clean outs have been good this week although production is dropping back sward quality should be excellent for the rest of the Summer. One paddock with a cover of 2000 cut this week. Growth slowing down after a dry week and with no significant  rain in the forecast we'll be slow to take out anymore paddocks for now. Paddocks that are cut for bales are receiving 2000 gallons of washing and 1 and a 1/4 of 18-6-12 to replenish PS & Ks.
June 16th 26.34 3.9 3.57 90 2.03 2.0 758 198 1300 65 91
Comment  Cows had a tough week grazing, tight along with wet few days during the middle of the week. Grass growth has been exceptional the last couple of weeks. The main issue now is that there is a surplus of grass but with a large proportion of the milking platform cut already, there is a gap in the wedge so paddocks that would ordinarily be skipped this round will have to be grazed and the plan is to take these out for bales next round. We've topped 75% of first cut area for second cut which will allow us lower the stocking rate on the milking platform, increase the ammount of after grass in the cows diet and free up poorly grazed paddocks for surplus bales. 4 bags of 18-06-12+ surplus spread for second cut. Parlour washings spread at 2000 gallons/acre after 7 weeks and will run an angus and an aubrac bull for 6 weeks to try keep empty rate to a min this year.
May 31st 28.28 4.21  3.51 147  2.18 3.0 653 156 1300 67 61
Comment: Cows were very unsettled for the majority of the wek and grass utilisation was poor. 3 cases of mastitis this week which im putting down to the weather and stress. The whole milking platform received 2 bags of 18/6/12 as we continue to build soil fertility to optimal levels. Replaced tags in 33 cows even though around 40 were replaced at the end of last year. Sold the last 12 Angus calves at the mart which averaged €150. First cut silage is in progress, the plan is to cut as much as possible before the rain arrives on Weds. Having our own silage gear gives us great flexibility especially when the window is so narrow. Changed the liners on the parlour during the week, they had done around 2500 milking's. Sowed some wildflower seeds to create a new bee bank around the silage pits and cleaned off a south facing bank for solitary mining bee's. 
May 24th 29.79 3.96 3.54 109 2.23 3.0 666 159 1300 57 76
Comment: Starnge to say this in May but we did some damage to paddocks the cows were in over the past week, hopefully they will recover well when the weather picks up. Spreading dirty water with trailing shoe on paddocks after cows graze. 21 day submission was very good considering the weather with the last 3 weeks a few repeats but that is ecpected, will switch to beef straws at the end of this week.
May 10th 32.24 3.84 3.51 66


4.5 567 140 1100 61 60

Growth has picked up this week but struggling to keep silage out of the diet. Demand has more or less matched growth so hoping to finally reach magic day next week. Cows are content on 24 hour grazing's and cleaning out covers of 1100. 52% of the cows have been served after 13 days of breeding. Topped up the tail paint over the weekend with a change of colour for the cows that have been served. Sold 8 replacement heifer calves during the week which leaves us with 42 replacements. Our student finished up on Friday, he got on very well and will be missed. We will have some help for a few days of the wek over the Summer from a young neighbour who is a great asset to the Farm for milking and helps us to keep on top of the day to day jobs.

April 26th 31.31 3.9 3.48 164


3.0     1200 54 42
Comment: Cows have been grazed good quality second rotation paddocks of 1200 and production has increased throughout the week. Utilisation is excellent in this weather. On 24 hour grazing's for the Summer. Walking the Farm today but looks like we have'nt reached the magic day yet. More rain definatly needed as soil moisture deficit increasing. Followed the cows with watery slurry this week.
April 19th 30.18 3.86 3.52 149 2.23 3.0 774 203 2700 57 36
 Comment: Grazed the last heavy cover over 6 night's during the week. Cover of 2700 but cows grazed reasonably well in dry conditions. No sign of any real warmth/rain coming over the next week so may need to increase meal levels if growth does'nt improve. Second milk recording of the year carried out during the week. Sold last of the Aubrac calves with just angus calves remaining now. Down to the last 3 cows left to calf. Hoof pared a cow with white line and found a drop, got it early so did'nt need antibiotic treatment. Cows showing strong heats this week, will start breeding on the 26th of April.  
April 12th 30.20 3.9 3.52 131 2.14 3.0 801 210 2300 57 41
Comment: Grazing two heavy covers of 2000+ during the wek extended the first rotation by 5 days, there is still one very heavy cover over 2500 which I am hoping we wont need to graze. All the milking platform was topped up with 23 units of protected urea to bring total N up to 66 units. Two thirds of the silage ground was spread with a bag and a quater of protected urea with sulpher and the rest which did'nt receive as much slurry got two and a quater bags of sweet 18s. Rolled around the headlands of silage fields and picked up stones around ditched. Had to reseed two thirds of a field that was stitched last August but unfortunately failed after wet weather. Lost a lovely Angus heifer calf that was unable to pass any faeces, always disappointing to lose an animal but there was nothing that could be done to save her.            
March 29th 30.3 4.15 3.49 175 2.31 3.0 924 286 1600 45 33
Comment: Cows have remained out full time on 3kg meal. 3 more grazing's left to finish silage ground. 28.5% of whole farm grazed to date. Cover of 1100 on first grazed paddock but only 900 on next one so will graze as much of first rotation as is needed to allow rest of paddocks to catch up. At the moment looks like last 3 paddocks can be skipped but may change depending on weather and growth but good to have the bank there to give the option.
March 22nd 28.77 4.37 3.31 146 2.21 3.0 781 424 1200 26 19
Comment: Cows have been out full time this week. 64% of the Farm grazed to date. Ground has dried up well so gone to 24 hour breaks now. Meal back from 4kd to 3kg. Plan is to start second rotation on 7th of April but will be adjusted accoreding to growth. 87% calved in 8 weeks. Whole herd received booster for Lepto and BVD. Dehorned last of the Fr Heifer calves. All 40 maiden heifers gone to contract rearer this week. Another 8 Aubrac calves sold from the yard. ESB on farm today to connect up our new 33kva transformer to increase our supply  to max one phase capacity. Sadly lost one of our best 6 week old heifer calf with a twisted gut on Saturday.
March 15th 26 4.55 3.32 200 2.05 4.0     1200    
Comment: Grazing was limited this week due to unsettled weather. Cows were in by night from Tuesday to Saturday. They were in Wednesday during the Day also but got out every other day for 3 hours of/on grazing. Cows were fed high quality bales when housed which held up litres but solids did drop back. They grazed our driest fields but still utilisation was poor so hoping to clean them up later this week when groud conditions dry out again. 26 out of 40 heifers have gone to contract rearer now and all of them have received their booster for BVD, Lepto and blackleg 
March 8th 26 4.9 3.41 179 2.16 4.0 811 504 1100 23 9
Comment: Its been a perfect week weather wise which has really dried out the ground. 37% has been grazed in total so far. 80% calved 6 weeks after first calf was born. Sold 35 Fr Bull calves from home so only Fr Heifers and beef calves on the Farm at the moment. Spread whole Farm with 2 bags/acre of 18.6.12. Had two down cows, onw with milk fever which is ok again and one that slipped and got injured which unfortunately wasn't able to get up again but thats farming and you have to accept you will have losses especially at this time of year. 18 lighest maiden heifers gone to contract rarer and remaining 22 will hopefully go in the next 10 days.
March 1st 23.4 4.75 3.37 248 1.9 4.0 974   1000 20 5
Comment: 17% Grazed in February. Cows have been out day and night since Thursday the 25th Feb. 72% calved but slowing down now as we transition to beef calves. Sold 24 more frisian bull calves in the mart. Cleaned out calving shed and calf sheds during the week. Got more straw as plan is to feed to late calves to maintain condition. First milk recording of the year carried out to get on top of SCC.