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Dairy Newsletter - February 2022

14 February 2022
Type Newsletter

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In this month's edition:

  • Early spring grass
    Despite the weather and ground condition challenges that occur at this time of year, every farmer should try to get cows out grazing as early as possible. Each additional day of grazing in February will increase farm profit through improved milk constituents and lower feed costs.
  • Somatic cell count – win the battle in early lactation
    Tús maith leath na hoibre (a good start is half the work).
    While clinical mastitis is easy to identify, subclinical mastitis can spiral out of control if left unchecked at the start of lactation. Early identification of somatic cell count (SCC) issues improves overall lactation performance.
  • Keep milk fever under control
    Milk fever can cause clinical cases (downer cows) or subclinical problems (slow calving, retained placenta, displaced abomasum). If more than 5% of cows are having these problems, then it is worth checking for milk fever risks.
  • Why use protected urea in 2022?
    Reason 1 - Protected urea is cheaper than CAN per unit of nitrogen (N). It may appear slightly more expensive than standard urea, but when the extra losses associated with standard urea are accounted for, protected urea is cheaper.
    Reason 2 - Protected urea grows more grass in the long term.
    Reason 3 - By switching to 100% protected urea on dairy farms, total farm emissions have the potential to be reduced by 7-8% at a spreading rate of between 200 and 250kg N/ha. In a long-term trial at Johnstown Castle, the grass grown by protected urea was greater than that of standard urea in six out of seven years.
  • Early nitrogen fertiliser application
    In the early part of the year, potential grass growth rates are low but even modest responses to fertiliser N are worthwhile, as this extra grass is a superb substitute for silage (lower feed quality) or concentrates (more expensive feed).
  • Health & Safety - Give safety first priority
    In 2021, nine farm workplace deaths occurred in agriculture (crop and animal production), two in forestry and logging, and one was related to farm construction (provisional data). Thus, 12 workplace fatalities occurred on farms.