A very, very hot January is behind us and now we are already a week into February. A month ago I spoke of having grass galore, and wondering about the best management strategy to overcome this. I soon found the answer….. lots of heat and no rain! What a change a few short weeks can make! Even though covers were high and quality was good as we moved through January the cover gradually dropped as cows ate through the feed we had built up and no significant growth occurred behind them owing to the dry, hot conditions. Thankfully the stocks of supplement on hand enabled us to increase the feed out rate of maize and PKE, and also introduce baleage. This meant that production and cow condition were maintained. The 31ml of rain that fell last week have greened things up now and if we get follow up in a week or two, we may see some lift in cover again.
The cows are getting around 12kg of supplement/day and we need to maintain this for a while to keep a long round and grow some grass ahead of us. It’s comforting to know that the cows can be fed to the desired level as we have supplements on hand, and the maize harvest is only 4-5 weeks away now, so there will be no issues with keeping cows in milk and in satisfactory body condition.
We had the dreaded letter from Regional Council a few weeks back, informing us of a visit to inspect our effluent system. I guess the first point to note was that it was nice to receive a nicely worded letter informing us that we could expect a phone call to arrange a suitable time, as opposed to a helicopter fly over and a team of “hit men” turning up a few days later armed with pens and infringement notices, ready to throw the book, our irrigator and even our whole pond at us! Our inspector was very co-operative as I made a date, rescheduled, made another and then rescheduled yet again.
However, my stalling tactics didn’t work, so I gave in and stuck to my latest arranged time. I must say that the whole 20 minute (yes, I did say 20 minute) chat we had as we discussed our system was very, very positive and reassuring, resulting in my heart rate and blood pressure soon returning to normal. I texted Bernard at the pre-determined time as we had arranged, but the message was NOT to let the man-eating Chihuahua out after all and please put the shotgun back in the gun cabinet!! When he appeared a few minutes later he looked visibly relieved, as he has told me before, “Us Irish don’t like violence”!!
Anyway, getting back to the point, our lovely effluent inspector was confident that we understood our system, had some storage and a contingency plan in place to cater for any hiccups (not that I expect any now that we have a brand new effluent pump (see last month’s blog)). The best news was that she ok’ed my plan of having our clay lined pond drop tested by Opus, meaning that if we can confirm that it doesn’t leak there is no need to line it in the foreseeable future. So I guess my point is that these guys from Council are on our side, and have come a long way to work with us to ensure we are getting the maximum benefit from our effluent, whilst doing the best for our precious environment.
Looking forward, it’s all about feeding the cows, cleaning troughs to ensure good quality water is available for the cows, and general farm maintenance. Still awaiting a scan on the herd, but we have scanned the R2 heifers and I am pleased to say that we only had one empty out of 45 so that was a good start. If we can replicate that result in the herd that would equate to 4.5 empties, a result that would inspire me to nominate Bernard for a Knighthood, book an overseas holiday to some exotic destination and maybe even buy my wife another ring…..watch this space!!!