The sunshine has been a welcome relief from the wet weather and mud! This being said calving has gone pretty well so far with not many losses of calves or cows. Thankfully, the grass has kept growing giving us a new (but nice) headache making sure we don’t lose any pasture quality over the next six weeks as we speed up the grazing round.
On the Farm
We currently have 371 cows on farm (and runoff) – all grazing 1.1 ha/day (65 day round).
- 221 milkers are grazing 1 ha/day + 6 – 7 kg/cow/day of meal + ½ kg/cow/day of molasses,
- 50 springers are grazing 0.1 ha/day + hay,
- 49 late dry cows are still grazing at the runoff + 6 empty cows about to be culled,
- 45 colostrums/sick cows and 110 calves are also on farm.
Production to date is 12,441 kg MS, compared with 10,000 kg MS at the same time last season. Current production is 5 kg MS/ha/day and 1.7 kg MS/cow/day. Cow condition is 4.3 – 4.4 for the milkers and the dry cows are 4.9 – 5.
The mineral mix is going through the meal at 3%. The minerals will also start going through the water in the next couple of weeks. Causmag is being dusted on the pasture for the dry cows. The colostrums are getting 300 g lime flower/cow/day dusted on their pasture.
The average pasture cover is 3,040 kg DM/ha (dropped from 3,100 kg DM/ha 3 weeks ago). This fantastic cover is attributed to the undersowing (which shows how poorly the fescue was doing), the use of the runoff over the winter and some excellent management over the last six weeks. The pasture cover targets for the next eight weeks are 2,700 – 2,800 kg DM/ha in late August and 2,500 – 2,600 kg DM/ha in late September.
We have been bringing 20 – 30 cows home each week from the run off, with the last 49 cows coming home this week. The heifers are also doing well and are going onto all grass.
All of the new grass is shut up to cut for silage later this month, with a second cut planned in late September / early October including some other paddocks.
The main key to getting through has been sticking to the plan – even when it’s not been easy.
The plan for the next four weeks (slightly earlier/quicker than what we originally planned due to the very good pasture cover) is:
- 13 – 25th August ½ paddock/feed (1 paddock/day);
- 25th August – 1st September 1½ paddocks/day.
We then plan to hold this round through until we are confident we are not going to run out of pasture – and when the residuals can be kept under control. The milkers should leave behind around 1,300 – 1,400 kg DM/ha of residual through until late August with the aim to see this lift to 1,500 – 1,700 kg DM/ha through the spring, also using the option to follow the milkers with dry cows if this helps to keep the residuals down to the lower target levels over the next 4 – 6 weeks.
We have also been discussing our mating plan with our farm consultant as we have changed our dairy company and so are looking to change a few things to make the most of everything on offer. With the aim to start calving on 1st August next year, mating will look to start around 25th October. CIDR’ing will therefore be targeted to be done around 15th October. We are still planning to calve the heifers in early June – so their mating will start around 1st September.