Clive Hall update from farmer Phil

Sorry it’s been a long time since I’ve done a blog – so here goes.

Just a short recap on where we left off, I think we were just at the start of our service period and had synchronised a number of cows to bring their bulling date forward and we were really concentrating on good observation of any bulling cows.

My target number of cows to serve in the first twenty one days of May was ten. By by the 21st May I had served 93% of the cows which was bang on target. From then on things slowed a little. The group of twenty cows we selected to milk once a day were mainly late calved cows,lame,dirty or not seen bulling in the lead up to the service period, so we put a bull with this group.

10 weeks AI

On the 1st of May every cow had a Kamar detector glued to them, always a sticky horrible job but certainly worth doing. As any cow in the once a dayers was served either by the bull or A.I, she then returned to the main milking herd. Due to the lack of enough good fertile bulls available we took the decision that I would A.I for ten weeks rather than five or six weeks which we had done in previous years.

As the weeks went by the return rates were monitored and recorded and we stopped A.I in mid July putting two crossbred bulls in with the cows.

In July we decided to P.D a few cows served in May and not returned to get a feel as to how service had gone and so we pulled out 50 cows and 48 were in calf, so all seemed well. By the end of October when we had P.D‘d all the cows the final results were excellent, with 93% in calf for my twelve week block from February 1st 2011.

Grass, silage and increased concentrate use

The early part of the summer was really challenging with the dry weather impacting on grass growth. We had to increase concentrate and also open the silage pit to compensate for the reduced amount of grass in the diet, but we ultimately remained in control of the grass feed wedge. We had to reduce grass demand by nearly 50% for about 10 days.

The dry weather meant we have fed a lot more concentrate in the middle part of the year when we would normally only be feeding 1kg/cow/day just as parlour bait for the cows. When the rain finally arrived and grass growth began to recover we instantly removed the silage, and then after a week cut the concentrate back from 5kg to 1Kg.

Milk dropped

Cutting the concentrate so dramatically led to the quantity of milk dropping, so we then put the concentrate up to 3kg then gradually reducing it back to 1kg over a week or so. We did this because we forgot to factor in that the grass during the dry spell would have been 30% DM and when the grass really got growing it was so lush that the dry matter would have been about 15%. So in a matter of a day or two the dry matter content of the grass had halved so the cows physically couldn’t eat enough lush low dry matter grass to satisfy their appetite. Thankfully the milk bounced back and an important lesson was learned.

As a result of poor grass growth and feeding silage mid-season, our overall silage stocks are alarmingly low, so next time I will try to explain the way we plan to overcome this.