A deluge – Brian Frost

It’s been a while since we have posted a blog – time to catch up.

On the home front, we have lived in 5 different homes in 4 months. The house we were meant to be using just didn’t work for our family but luckily we have found another house that suits us much better. We are still unpacking boxes but feeling more settled and can enjoy the countdown to Mitch’s wedding. Frostie (in fact, all of us) is missing his father-in-law, who he calls on regularly to help where needed on the farm, as he is biking in Italy – he will be back in 10 days – so counting down to this also.

On the farm

BF flooding May17

The wonderful rain that we had in February, which didn’t flood the farm, unfortunately didn’t stop and we ended up flooding twice over the last couple of months – the first time 70 acres went under and a lot of damage was done. After getting this ground sown with new grass it went under again, so not fun times. Thankfully, the new grass seems to be doing ok and was not badly damaged by the second flood but the ground is still incredibly wet (as is the case for many others) and we could do with some fine weather for more than a couple of days.

BF flooding damage May17

We were able to get the maize off the week before the first floods came, so we have things to be grateful for as many had great problems getting their maize off. We are thankful for any sort of supplement as the quality has also been compromised by the season we have had.

BF maize harvest May17

Here’s hoping we get a bit more nice weather over the next 6 – 8 weeks to dry the soil out a bit before the cold weather turns up!

There are currently 289 milkers on farm – all grazing 1 ha/day (70 day round), 6.5 kg/cow/day of meal, ½ – 1 kg/cow/day of molasses, 3.5 kg DM/cow/day of maize silage and 3.5 kg DM/cow/day of grass silage. Production to date is 163,103 kg MS, current production is 5.3 – 5.4 kg MS/ha/day and 1.35 kg MS/cow/day. Cow condition is 5.1 – 5.2.

Feed

Average pasture cover is 1,988 kg DM/ha over everything, excluding the 6 new grass paddocks. The pasture cover targets for the next 8 weeks are 2,200 – 2,300 kg DM/ha in late June and 2,100 – 2,200 kg DM/ha in late July.

As the cows are dried off over the coming weeks, the round will naturally extend for the winter. The residuals have been hard to keep but we want to keep trying to keep the milkers to at least 1,500 – 1,600 kg DM/ha through the winter. The dry cows will follow behind the milkers initially (especially during the drying off process) with the target to leave behind around 1,200 kg DM/ha through the winter with these cows. The dry off plan is to dry off every couple of weeks according to calving date.

Winter mating

Winter mating started on the 25th May and will go for 6 weeks.

Fertiliser

5.2 tonne of PhaSedN has been applied in May, at 120 – 130 kg/ha. This will continue over the whole farm and then we will switch to SustaiN.

Runoff

The runoff also took a bit of a hit with flooding, but nowhere near as bad as the milking platform so it recovered quicker although it is still very wet underfoot.

Unfortunately, the calves have not done as well as we would have liked either. They have been on full chicory, we have since decided not to do this again. We will plant the chicory with another grass as there has not been enough fibre in the chicory alone – a hard lesson to learn as it’s depressing not having your animals thrive the way they should. All the wet weather has possibly had an effect too.

BF calves May17

At the moment there are 130 R2 heifers and 40 dry cows getting 1/3 paddock/day plus maize silage. 120 calves are getting 2 bales/day of grass silage plus maize silage.

There are about 8 paddocks left to finish with PhaSedN before changing back to SustaiN for the following round.

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