A couple of months back I wrote about the tough going this year with a payout forecast of $5.30. Oh, the agony, if only……Today’s announcement of a drop to $4.70, although not hugely surprising, given the low prices at the recent GDT auctions, has added a bit more gloom to an otherwise promising start to the dairy season. This makes the long gone $5.30 seem oh so generous, let alone the memory of the original $6.00…..how well off we would have been with that payout!!
Imagine the Christmas gift I COULD have got my wife!! Oh well, I’m sure she’ll understand….However, volatility is a fact of dairying, we have been warned, so we need to farm to the best of our abilities, maximize our production and minimise our costs by good cost control and pasture management. Things will improve and we need to be grateful for all the joys that farming brings, irrespective of payout.
As far as our farm operations are going, we are well satisfied with our current position. Our cell count is still lower than ever, the calves have gone grazing and the cows are looking good and still producing ahead of last year. The maize on farm got planted on Nov 2nd and is getting close to canopy closure. We are now stocked at an effective 4.2 cows/ha (if we take the maize area out), meaning we are still feeding 4-5 kg of a maize/PKE mix on the pad daily.
Nine weeks of mating have passed; 6 weeks AI and then 3 weeks with four bulls being rotated in the herd. We now have the AI technician on call again, as the bulls are all gone and we are mating any cows that cycle in weeks 10 and 11 to the shortest gestation bulls on offer. The plan is to minimise empties by inseminating these late cyclers whilst not affecting our calving spread. Hopefully we won’t have too many, but if it works well, it’s a strategy we will use annually in the future. We tailpainted everything again yesterday, just to help with identifying the cyclers. Bernard loves the thought of drafting cycling cows out again, it should add a bit more time in the shed, which won’t hurt as the milking time in the morning was getting quicker and quicker and I had to get his hours up somehow, or else he will soon be earning more per hour than me!!
Speaking of Bernard, he is busy getting things together for his 50/50 position starting on the 1st of June. He has his finance sorted, is on the lookout for cows and has started buying gear. A feedout wagon, calf feeder, 1t urea spreader and John Deere tractor are now filling up my sheds. I don’t know where I went wrong, as I said in my last blog, I bought a “new” John Deere a few months back and still am incredibly chuffed with my purchase. However, my pride in purchase has been somewhat dented by Bernard purchasing a more modern JD with more horsepower AND a cab! I thought these young fellas had to do it hard to start with, I mean what’s wrong with starting with a 135, or the like, as most of us did?? All this wealth sitting in my shed puts me on a par with the likes of John Austin Contracting, so I dread the day when Bernard moves all his flash gear to his new job! Maybe if I give him a few glasses of pure Jameson the night before he leaves he might take the wrong gear with him…….time will tell.
On that note, it’s getting on and Christmas is coming, so I had better go start making a few gifts for people out of wool, sticks and glue, just as they did in the old days when times were tough!! Merry Christmas.