Glanbia Monitor Farm Update – Donal O’Reilly
The weather continues to remain cold with little sign of spring taking hold. Heavy rain on Tuesday has brought rainfall totals well above average for the past week, resulting in land continuing to remain very heavy nationwide.
This week Teagasc adviser Richard O’Brien, co-ordinator of the Glanbia Monitor Farm Programme, visited Donal O’Reilly’s farm in Bishops Island, Watergrasshill, Co. Cork. Donal milks 144 commercial Holstein Friesian dairy cows on a 45 hectare grazing platform. At present, Donal has 12% of his farm grazed. He had hoped to have at least 25% grazed by this time. ‘There has been no let-up in rain, ground conditions are still very poor,’ said Donal. At present, Donal has no Nitrogen out but plans to spread 30 units of urea as soon as the weather permits.
‘The cows are on 3 hour grazing bouts after morning and evening milkings. We start the evening milking at 4pm and get the cows back in at 8pm. The cows remain indoors full time on wet days,’ said Donal.
Calving started on 30 Jan and 50% of Donal’s herd had calved by 15 February, with 90% of his heifers having calved by this time.
‘We weighed the heifers on 17 February. The average weight was 368kg,’ Donal explained. ‘Overall the heifers were on target. The average daily gain over winter was 0.6 kg/day. This was achieved by feeding the heifers 2kg of meal for 60 days and on 73% DMD silage. We plan to let the heifers to grass next week, weather permitting,’ Donal explained.
In comparison, on the monitor farm of Conor Beausang in Co. Waterford, his heifers were weighed on 23 January with an average weight of 309kg and a range from 280-369 kg. Similarly on the monitor farm of Pat Dillon in Co. Kilkenny, his heifers had an average weight of 302kg and a range from 260-356 Kg when weighed on 12 February. Donal O’Reilly’s cows are being fed 5kg of meal when they are in full-time and 3 kg when they are out. The average farm cover is 979 kg DM/ha. He is grazing dry paddocks with a cover of 1,000kgDM/ha. There was no growth in the last two weeks.
Donal has a labour unit with him during the calving season and is selling all the bull calves from the yard at an early age.
Richard advises farmers to get out and walk their farms before letting the cows back out. ‘If you get a few dry days together, you would be surprised by how quick the land will start to dry,’ said Richard. ‘If the cows are starting to damage the ground, put them back in the shed to avoid longer term damage,’ Richard advised.
First Published 19th February 2016