Signpost Dairy Farmer
Sean Collery farms with his father Pat in Ballinacarrow, Sligo. Sean is a dairy farmer with a Spring calving herd. Sean milks 67 high EBI B&W cows. The milking block is stocked at 3 LU/ha. Sean's farm has been in nitrogen derogation for the last 3 years. His cows produce 500kg/milk solids/cow in 2020.
Challenges: Maintaining grass growth while reducing nitrogen applications. Land quality is mixed on the farm and maintaining clover in swards has proved to be problematic in the past.
Farm Advisor: Cian Devaney Teagasc, Ballymote
Signpost Farm Measures Undertaken
For the last two years Sean has been using protected urea when applying straight nitrogen and has been happy with the results and sees no difference in grass growth in comparison to CAN or Urea.
Sean dung samples young stock so only dose for worms when required and have vaccinated for BVD and Leptospirosis. Sean has been using selective dry cow therapy for 10 years and currently only 25% of the cows get an antibiotic tube at dry-off. The farm also use culture and sensitivity testing to identify bacteria causing mastitis and to detect any resistance that may be developing.
Sean has put a huge effort into soil fertility in the last five years and seen significant increases in soil fertility in terms of P &K and soil pH and soil tests regularly and develops a fertiliser plan based on the results.
Cows usually start grazing in mid-February using on/off grazing. Full time grazing will only start from the end of March. Sean sometimes must rehouse cows, if weather and ground conditions are poor. Cows will graze fulltime up to mid-October and by day until Mid-November.
Sean does not have any significant amount of clover in swards and has included it in seed mixtures over the last 10 years. However it is very patchy in swards and not at required levels to fix sufficient nitrogen or achieve increased milk solids output/cow. Sean will have to adopt different management to promote greater clover content in his swards.
Sean has switched all reseeding to min till. All slurry is spread with LESS and has been using it for a number of years and is very happy with the results.