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Diarmuid & Sean Fitzgerald

Signpost Dairy Farmers

We are farming in a partnership milking 125 cows on a grass based system. We farm 67 hectares. A major challenge we see coming at us over the next couple of years are the environmental challenges and rising input costs. We will have to adapt our system due to rising meal and fertilizer prices to remain profitable.

For the last month we have built up grass in the autumn to extend the grazing season. We started closing off paddocks from 10th of October on. A lot of work was put into establishing clover this year. We broadcast and stitched in clover. We used coated Germinal clover seed and put it in at a rate of 4 kg per acre. We also added 2 kg of coated clover to full reseeds. There was a lot of work grazing at low covers multiple times throughout the year to maintain and enhance the clover. My aim now is to graze those paddocks at a later date to allow the clover to flourish during the closed period.

We will be getting soil samples done in late November/ early December. We found out last year that we needed a lot of lime spread to lift the pH. We acted on this and spread 180 tonnes in March/April and another 75 tonne in late August. We want to address this quickly. We spread two rounds of potash 0/0/50 with a four week interval in the last two months. All index 1 and 2 got 50 units of K.

We didn’t do any hedge cutting this year. These management practices should reduce our carbon footprint going forward and should also reduce input costs.  One of the challenges currently is the uncertainty and feed and fertiliser prices for the coming year and also diesel prices which will increase contractors rates. 

Over the next month on the farm I will start drying off cows using selective dry cow therapy based on milk recording results. I aim to have the farm fully closed around mid-November with average farm cover around 600 kg DM/ha. I am also in the Munster herd health programme too and I have three of the four samples for 2021 so far. So far results showed that the fluke levels in the cows are low. I have another milk sample to go but I will also take dung samples before deciding on dosing. If the cows need to be dosed I will hold off until the cows are in at least two weeks. I haven’t ordered protected urea yet for next year.