Bill is farming organically in Ballickmoyer, Co. Laois. Bill’s father in law, Jimmy Mulhall, converted the farm to organic farming in 2001 with Bill joining the farming business in 2006. He is farming 148ha with a milking platform is 64 ha.
Crops on the farm include 12Ha of a barley/pea mix (to be combined), 8Ha of barley, pea & grass wholecrop silage and 28Ha of Red Clover silage.
Bill is currently milking 152 cows and is stocked at 2.31LU/Ha on the milking platform. Milk is supplied to The Village Dairy in Carlow and also to the Little Milk Company. The herd is split between Autumn (40%) and spring calving (60%).
Cows are averaging 20.5litres at 4.15% Fat and 3.15% Protein. SCC is 120. (Bill receives a flat rate milk price currently). Within this, the Autumn calvers are averaging approximately 15 litres and the spring calvers 25litres. The herd will average approximately 7,000litres for the lactation. Cows are receiving on average 0.9kgs/head/day of a 16% protein nut in the parlour. The lowest yielding cows are receiving 0.25kgs of concentrate and any cows yielding in excess of 30 litres are receiving 1.5kgs.
1500 gallons/acre of slurry was spread in mid-January on any light covers. Cows were turned out to grass on February 5th by day and by night on March 1st. The first round was completed by April 20th. Cows were followed with 1500gallons of slurry spread with a splash plate. Bill is expecting delivery of a trailing shoe system in the coming weeks.
150Ton of dairy sludge was spread on low Phosphorus paddocks in the past month. This covered 25% of the grazing platform. All paddocks were topped in the last grazing round, but Bill has stopped now due to entering a potential drought situation.
Grass growth has been hovering around 50kgs DM/Ha/day for the past few weeks but is starting slow down this week due to a moisture deficit. Bill expects it to be around 40 - 45 when he does the next cover. On his last cover, AFC was 732kgs and cover/cow was 317kgs.
All grazing paddocks have been reseeded over the past 10 years. When reseeding, Bill adds in an extra 1kg of white clover, usually resulting in a seed mixture with 2.5kgs of white clover/acre. As a result, there is in excess of 30% clover on all paddocks on the grazing block. In his own words, “I couldn’t go on without it, it’s easily grown, it’s very valuable to us, and we take good care of it”.
The Red Clover silage was cut on May 10th and yielded 6.5ton/acre fresh weight. The silage is pitted and analysed as having 5% sugars at cutting. Bill hopes to take the second cut in late June and will take 2 further cuts, with the final cut taking place in late September. Bill expects the next 3 yields to be 4-3-2 tonnes fresh weight per acre. This would give an expected yield of over 15tonnes/acre fresh weight.
The peas in the wholecrop silage are starting to flower, so Bill plans to cut that within the next week. He is expecting 8 – 10 bales/acre from this. The Barley/Pea mix will be combined the second week of August and he is hoping for a yield of 2.5tonnes/acre. This mix is dried and milled on farm. This will provide 0.5ton of winter concentrate for his cows. He will purchase an additional 0.75 tonnes of concentrate per cow.