“Time heals every wound, don’t give up too soon”. These words come to mind from a song I remember singing along to back in the 80s, maybe 90s, as I hooned around in my Datsun 1600 or my Mazda 929. Yes, time has healed the wounds to a certain extent for all of us as we head into more settled and warmer spring weather. The horrors of a really tough winter period are fading, as are the rest of the words of the aforementioned song!
Growth rates have picked up and we have seen good responses to the nitrogen we have applied. Isn’t it so good to be able to let the cows go straight to the paddock instead of having to hold them up so they all get an equal share of pasture? Seeing a pile of reels and standards ready to be stored away for a few months also warms the heart as this indicates that the rotation length has decreased. We can confidently give our cows a larger area in the full knowledge that the days are getting longer and warmer, growth rates should be more in line with cow demand, and the likelihood of any serious feed deficit has waned.
However, in our case, we are still feeding the cows maize and PKE (no more than 3 kg of course) as our stocking rate demands constant growth rates in the 70s, which we are a still a fair way away from. It’s fair to say that the only certainty in spring is that growth is erratic, so even if the grass really takes off things can change fairly quickly. Keeping a close watch on residuals is a necessity so adjustments can be made to the amount of supplements fed daily. Maybe that’s why Sam didn’t start milking until daylight today….Checking the residuals in the light of day???? Wouldn’t have had anything to do with the fact that it’s Saturday morning and he had a late night last night?? That’s dedication for you I guess!!
After speaking to other farmers around the area it is evident that in spite of the trying weather we all experienced, animal health and calving issues were minimal in most cases this year. We have only had a small number of mastitis cases, and lameness issues have been less than other years. Only a handful of cows needed calving assistance and downer cows could be counted on one hand. Is this the case on your farm too?? It always astounds me that trends like this seem to be widespread in general. Why is that?? Each farm is different?? Maybe we have all become better educated and more diligent with our prevention strategies, having non-negotiable policies of always using dry cow or a teat sealant, vaccinating our cows against rotavirus etc, and realising the value of ‘first milk colostrum’ in the rearing of our calves.
Speaking of calves, I am amazed at how much the price of milk powder has dropped over the last few years. Even working on a milk price of $4.25 there is a saving in feeding calves on milk powder, and the added bonus of tasting a sample of the delicious powdery stuff is the icing on the cake, so to speak! Quality control is important but care needs to be taken that there isn’t any residue from the sampling left stuck to the facial hair!! In saying that, I do have a bit of it on my chin now that no amount of scrubbing seems to be able to remove….real sticky stuff this milk powder!!
Going forward, mating is looming. Premating tail paint has been applied in order to identify any non-cyclers and get an indication of the number cycling. Since we built the feedpad, applying tail paint has become so much less of a chore. Sneaking around behind them while they eat and vigorously brushing some paint over the tail before they know what has happened, means the job gets done in record time and there’s no disruption to milking. If only we could inseminate them this way too!! Metrichecking will happen shortly also. We have just purchased one of those thingys that you put up inside the cow’s thingy to detect if any pus is present. Doing this job ourselves will save a bit of money, although a big part of the cost is the actual treatment. In saying that, the cost of treatment is nothing compared to having dirty cows that won’t get in calf.
Our teaser bull is due here next week and the beef bulls have been ordered to run with the non-cyclers initially and then tail off the herd. I opted to lease two and buy two this year and will be interested to see if there are any financial advantages either way. Lease bulls have a fixed cost and can be replaced if something goes wrong. Purchased bulls are more risky as far as that goes but depending on the schedule may not cost as much. What are all you guys doing? Leasing or buying? Or only AI?? I did consider no bulls if we had opted to use ‘Flashmates’ but decided against this for this season.
Going back to my last blog, I finished with all the things we had to look forward to. Happily, most of these have occurred now which is so exciting! Wee Ainsley was born three weeks ago and is paying back her mum for the sleepless nights she caused us 26 years ago!! She is doing well though, and in her case milk powder is the more expensive option…. Ali Baba, the stage show extraordinaire, only runs two more times, so by the time you read this it will be all over, and thirdly, spring has sprung and we have a lamb!! A real cutey too. Last lamb for Ag day as Hayze is off to College next year. He is also off to a family event this weekend so the lamb feeding has been delegated to whoever can’t stand the bleating, which at the moment is me! I don’t see how some other members of this family can continue sleeping through all the ba ba ba that’s going on! I obviously will need to move him closer to the house and under a certain bedroom window!! Better go feed him before he starves to death! Till next time, happy farming, grab a break before mating, and enjoy the season no matter what it brings!