Spring Calving Dairy Cows


Quota-Minimising the final sting

As you read this we are only seven months away from the end of milk quotas.  However, it looks as though there will be a sting in the tail with a superlevy almost certain and milk price dropping.

The first step is to estimate how far over quota you are likely to be. A relatively simple method of estimating this would be to look at your milk sales for the same period last year and adjust for changes in cow numbers, % heifers in the herd etc. If you are likely to run significantly over quota, what are your options now?e....Read More

Lending to the Dairy sector
Considerations when providing finance to farmers
A completed loan application form is the starting point for most agricultural lending proposals. In addition to asking for details about the lending being sought, this form also captures the important farm information (stock numbers, land details, direct payments, etc.) and additional family and financial information (existing loans, savings, investments, available off farm income, etc.) You’ll get an application form in your local bank branch or through your bank’s website....Read More

Focus on Expansion
Milk quota abolition is now only nine months away. New entrants or expansion of an existing dairy farm are faced with significant challenges.  Over the last 12-24 months, Teagasc and others have held various ‘Dairy Expansion’ events.  What have been the key messages from these events?....Read More

Veterinary Care and Herd Health

Success with Johne's

Herdowner’s need to test their entire milking herd to get a handle on their Johne’s status, either using milk at milk recording or blood at the annual herd test. In herds where Johnes is an issue production and fertility are affected, cows are usually culled for infertility or SCC before they develop the clinical signs of Johne’s and begin scouring and losing weight....Read More


Avoiding TCM Residues

What is Trichloromethane (TCM) residue and why is it important?

Cleaning and disinfection in the milk production process on your farm is critically important to the quality of the milk you send to your milk supplier. Chemical solvents containing chlorine are among the most effective and economical for cleaning and disinfecting your milking facilities....Read More


Managing Parasites in Dairy Cows at Housing 2013

Despite a relatively dry summer, there is still a large burden of parasites on grazing swards. Housing is a good time to treat cows as they are not exposed to fluke or worms once housed. Don’t forget to also treat for external parasites (lice and mange). Selection of the correct product or combination of products will save time and money....Read More


The 10 Golden Rules for Successful Vaccination

Make a plan - Talk to your vet and decide which groups of animals should be protected against which diseases....Read More


Schmallenberg Virus (SBV)

This is a new viral infection that effects ruminants (cattle, sheep and goats) and is transmitted by midges. It was first identified in November 2011 near the German town of Schmallenberg. The disease has been detected in 16 countries in Europe and was first reported in Ireland, in Cork, on 30th October 2012. SBV is transmitted by midges (Culicoides) which are normally active in Ireland between April and November....Read More


Leptosporosis & BVD Vaccination

Leptosporosis (Lepto) is a bacterial infection that colonises in the kidney and genital tract of its host.  Lepto can be shed from these organs into the urine for more than 12 months and thus releasing more bacteria into the environment.  Lepto is a highly infectious and is widespread....Read More

Now is the time to review your herd Johne’s programme.

As herdowners we cannot control the weather or milk price fluctuations but we must ensure that we guard against poor production and fertility performance.Johne’s once established in a herd reduces milk yield, reduces fertility and leads to premature culling, also reduced income from incalf heifer salesd....Read More


Redwater Bulletin

Redwater is a life-threatening disease of cattle caused by a parasite called Babesia divergens. The parasite is transmitted by ticks. High risk periods for Redwater are late spring/early summer and autumn. However, cases of Redwater may occur throughout the year, if conditions for ticks are suitable.Farmers should monitor cattle carefully for early signs of Redwater including....Read More


Great Return on Investment for Dairy Farmers in 2013:

Munster’s Dairy herds could be delivering as much as €106m a year more (see map) if they were treated for gutworms, according to research from Merial Animal Health. The company has supported MOO testing.....Read More


Udder Health

By law from 1st Jan 2008 the sale and supply of Intramammary Products (Dry Cow & Milking Cow Tubes) needs to be accompanied by a current veterinary prescription....Read More


Hoof Care and Lameness

Lameness is now a major problem in Irish dairy herds – it has become the second largest dairy cow health challenge after mastitis. Up to 89% of dairy cattle....Read More


Mastitis Control Programme

As we head into the main drying off period for spring calvers, we cover a number of messages to our Mastitis Control Programme members.....Read More


Mineral feeding for the pre-calving cows 

Dry cows should receive a pre-calving minerals from 6 - 8 weeks before calving.  
The main aim of this feeding is to 
- Prevent milk fever, and retained cleansings, 
- Produce a healthy calf,
- Ensure the cow calves down in the correct mineral status.

Dry cows should receive a pre-calving minerals from 6 - 8 weeks before calving.  The main aim of this feeding is to - Prevent milk fever, and retained cleansings, - Produce a healthy calf,- Ensure the cow calves down in the correct mineral status:....Read More


Feeding for Fertility 

Dry cows should receive a pre-calving minerals from 6 - 8 weeks before calving.  
The main aim of this feeding is to 
- Prevent milk fever, and retained cleansings, 
- Produce a healthy calf,
- Ensure the cow calves down in the correct mineral status.

Poor fertility performance is the biggest cause of involuntary culling on Irish dairy farms.  Reducing empty rates from 15% to 10% will yield a return of 1c/ltr net margin.  For good fertility performance you need;

-  An optimum breeding management programme, 

- A feeding programme appropriate for your cow,  

- A good herd health status 

- An AI programme that breeds for fertility:....Read More


Feeding for Breeding 2015 

A New Era

Quotas are no more! While a large superlevy for 2014-2015 will hit many of you, hopefully you can take comfort in the knowledge that there will be no superlevy in 2015-2016 or any year after that.. :....Read More


Feeding Spring Calving Cows in Early Lactation 2015

Supplementation in early lactation
1. Under Quota Herds• Maximise milk yield (economically)-Feed a 20% protein ration when indoors fulltime (24% if maize silage fed), reducing the protein level as grass enters the diet.....Read More


Dairygold 2014-2015 Dry Cow Nutrition Programme

The most stressful time for your cows is around calving with over 50% of dairy cow metabolic problems occurring within three weeks of calving. Proper dry cow management and preparation for this period of stress is criticall...... Read More 


Milk Fever

What is Milk Fever?
Milk fever is a disease, characterized by reduced blood Calcium (Ca) levels. It is most common in the first few days of lactation when demand for Ca for milk production exceeds the body’s ability to mobilize calcium reserves.

Why is Milk Fever important?
Milk fever, both clinical and subclinical, is the most important macro mineral disorder that affects transition dairy cows. Milk fever affects muscle and immune function and which can cause a cascade of problems ultimately leading to:....Read More 


Late Lactation Feeding in 2014

Risk of FAT Cows Calving Down in 2015
This year, if you are over quota, you may decide to dry cows off early. If you decide to do this, target thin cows and first calvers as they will benefit from an extended dry period. Be cautious about drying all cows in your herd early. There is a danger of some cows becoming too fat which can lead to difficult calvings, milk fever and other metabolic problems....Read More 


Feeding Spring Calving Cows in Late Lactation

Autumn grass has a lower energy value (lower sugar content) compared to spring/summer grass even through it can look very leafy and green.  Consequently the response to ration in terms of milk yield is better in the autumn than at any other time of the year; typically 1 litre of milk per 1Kg concentrate fed....Read More  


Feeding Concentrates at Grass

Nutrition for breeding
Your nutritional aims for successful breeding are
:• To minimise your herd’s body condition loss between calving and the start of breeding i.e. maximum 0.5 condition score loss and/or a minimum BCS of 2.5 at breeding:....Read More 


Feeding for Breeding 2014 

Transition Cow Focus

Feeding for your herd’s breeding starts in the dry period and nutrition at this time has a significant effect on ensuring the cow goes back in calf quickly.  If up to 25% of your herd has yet to calf, don’t neglect them, you can still have some influence on this key nutritional period.  Dairygold recommends feeding 2Kg/head/day of TRANSITION GOLD for the final three weeks pre-calving. :....Read More


Feeding Spring Calving Cows in Early Lactation 2014


Supplementation in early lactation
Feed intake lags behind milk yield after calving as highlighted in Figure 1.  This creates an energy gap that has to be met by a cow’s own body reserves i.e. the cow ‘milks off her own back’.  The larger this energy gap and the longer it lasts the harder it will be to get cows back in calf....Read More


Cull Cows-Sell Now or Feed and Fatten?

With the spectre of a super levy looming on the horizon, many farmers will take the opportunity to cull infertile cows from the herd.  However should farmers offload these animals as soon as possible or should they feed and fatten them before selling?:....Read More

Autumn grass limitations: Autumn grass has a lower energy value (lower sugar content) compared to spring/summer grass even through it can look very leafy and green.. :....Read More


Milk Protein Drops-Causes and Solutions
Milk protein varies with genetic potential, breed and stage of lactation.  Milk protein starts high after calving, reduces in early lactation (dilution effect of increased yield) and increases thereafter.  Cow nutrition influences protein as follows:....Read More


Autumn grass limitations
Autumn grass has a lower energy value (lower sugar content) compared to spring/summer grass even through it can look very leafy and green. Consequently the response to ration in terms of milk yield is better in the autumn than at any other time of the year. ....Read More


Body Conditioning Scoring (BCS) Guide

BCS is a simple technique to assess how thin or fat a cow is on a scale of 1 to 5 with increments of 0.25, where 1 is extremely thin and 5 is extremely fat. What are the key BCS targets?....Read More


Grassland Management


Preparing for autumn grazing

Rotation length should increase from 25 days in mid-August to 35 days by mid-September and 45 days by the start of the last rotation.

Grass covers should increase to a peak of 450 kgDM/cow or 1,150 kgDM/Ha in mid- to late-September........Read More


Soil Fertility - Lime Matter

Kepoint this Month: AVOID STEMMY GRASS!!
Every 4% reduction in Grass Digestibility will reduce milk yield by 1kg/cow/day and milk solids yield by 5%.

What is soil pH

Soil pH is a measure of how acidic your soils are. The lower the pH the more acidic your soil is. Acidic soils grow less grass........Read More


Keeping Grass Quality Good in June

Kepoint this Month: AVOID STEMMY GRASS!!
Every 4% reduction in Grass Digestibility will reduce milk yield by 1kg/cow/day and milk solids yield by 5%.

Key point this Month: AVOID STEMMY GRASS!!Every 4% reduction in Grass Digestibility will reduce milk yield by 1kg/cow/day and milk solids yield by 5%.......Read More


Grass Over-Seeding

Many There are huge benefits to reseeding (see http://www.agritrading.ie/Reseeding-Benefits) and while it will deliver you a strong return where managed correctly, it is expensive-costing circa €250 per acre for a conventional reseed.......Read More


To Grow More Grass – Keep to a 20 Day Rotation

Most dairy farmers actually know this but may not put it into practice.  However, it is no harm to remind ourselves as to why it is necessary.  As can be seen from the picture the grass plant produces new leaf.  These come every 7 days.  The grass plant is right for grazing when it is at the 3 leaf stage.......Read More


Get 33% extra land without leasing

Many dairy farmers will tell you that land is the new quota as of now in early April 2015.  Farmer optimism (not just dairying) and changes in government policy has resulted in increased prices being paid for rented land.  So it is timely that we address this frenzy.......Read More


€Graze, €Graze, €Graze…..

The bottom line is that you must keep grass in the diet of your dairy cows as much as possible during March.  There are many reasons for this but primarily it is to lower your cost of milk production.  This is especially true when we examine our quota position. Many farmers are going to find themselves running (if not already) over quota during March.......Read More


I can’t let the Cows out to Grass

Every day a cow spends at grass is worth over €2.50 per cow day.  So try to get the cows out to grass!!  Most of this gain in money is achieved through cost savings (65% or €1.75) and not increased milk yield or increased milk solids.  Grass is the cheapest feed – much cheaper than silage or meal so turn the cows out – take the wins.......Read More


Preparing for Spring Grass

Many dairy farmers will calve down more cows, and probably more compactly, in 2015.  Milk price is coming under pressure and the quota problem has not gone away either.  Therefore every day your cows can spend at grass is going to have a massive effect on your costs of production. So aim to complete, as much preparation as you can in January, for grazing in February......Read More


Soil Testing and Correcting pH

Soil fertility is critical to allow you to grow more grass on your farm.  Teagasc have compiled 5 key steps to achieving good soil fertility on your farm, see http://www.agritrading.ie/Soil-Fertility-Management for details.

Now is the ideal time (November to January) to address the first two steps, soil testing and correcting soil pH......Read More


Grassland Weed Control

Weeds can seriously reduce your available grass and grass silage yield and quality. For every 1% ground cover by weeds, you can assume that your pastures are losing 1% yield. While various weeds can cause problems in grassland, the three most common are docks, thistles and nettles. These weeds if left uncontrolled can quickly start dominating grasslands.....Read More


Reseeding Benefits

Teagasc recommends you should reseed 10-15% of your farm every year but currently only 1-2% of grassland is reseeded annually. ....Read More


Soil Fertility Management

Fertiliser use and soil fertility headlines
• 55% of soils tested in Ireland in 2013 were low (index 1 or 2) in Phosphorus (P)
• 52% of soils tested in Ireland in 2013 were low (index 1 or 2) in Potassium (K)
• 80% of soils tested in Ireland in 2013 were short in lime for optimum crop growth (below pH 6.5):.....Read More


Autumn Reseeding

Reseeding is one of the best short to medium term investments you can make on your farm.  The key reasons to reseed are:.....Read More


Reseeding Best Practice 

Reseeding is likely to cost close to €250 per acre but reseeding can pay for itself within two years.  However to achieve this payback it is critical successfully establish and manage the new sward....Read More

Forage options

Guidelines for making good quality baled silage 

The principles of making baled silage are the same as pit silage:

1) Remove all air and maintain air-free through to feedout

2) Reduce silage pH (level determined by the extent of wilting).....Read More


Forage Maize Growing 2015

Key point: You must target good yield and quality. To achieve this; choose a good site, plastic cover where appropriate, the most suitable variety for your site, and follow best practise crop nutrition and weed control recommendations.

In 2015, maize may well offer good quality feed at a low price compared to offer forage options....Read More


Second Cut Silage 

Second cut silage is typically more expensive to produce than first cut and quality also tends to be variable.  This has made second cut silage less common in recent years.....Read More


Silage Stocks Tightening

Unfortunately, current weather conditions are causing a number of problems on farm and we are again contemplating the risk of a forage shortage, which is likely to become a reality if these weather conditions continue much longer.  If you are experiencing difficulties, help is available through your local Area Sales Manager, and further back up experts are available for more detailed support and advice where requested.......Read More


Re-Building Fodder Stocks

While many farms have only just passed crisis point of trying to stretch fodder reserves to feed their livestock, it is important now that attention is given to minimise the impact of a likely fodder shortage in winter 2013-14......Read More


Forage Option Values (correct 12/6/13)

The table below has two columns of forage values;
1) Value today (12-6-13) based on straights prices for bulk loads tipped. (8 ton retail prices delivered blown minus €7 for tipping)
2) Value next winter based on projected prices for bulk loads of straights tipped......Read More


Exploring on-farm fodder growing options for winter 2013-14

We are now in June, and it is too late to grow crops such as maize and arable silage. So what are the options for your farm now?Maximise production from existing grassland......Read More


Renewed Focus on Grass Silage

After the difficult grass management year in 2012, silage yields and quality led to forage shortages and expensive feeding in the winter just past. There is therefore a renewed interest in making more silage, and better quality silage, in 2013.....Read More


Whole Crop Cereals/High Moisture Grain

It is essential to monitor the dry matter of the crop regularly, starting a month before the anticipated harvest date. Dry matter can change by 1-2% per day once the crop has reached 45% dry matter....Read More

Farm Biosecurity & Facility Hygiene

Milking Equipment Washing Routines - Dr. David Gleeson (Teagasc)

Choosing a wash routine- 4 most popular routines
• Routines which include more regular acid cleaning (C, D) are highly effective in maintaining low bacterial numbers on any size milking system; however this system is more suited to plants with automatic wash systems for safety reasons....Read More


Housing & Bedding Best Pratice

Cow Housing  Make sure saw dust is dry (cubicles), Run Scrapers regularly and Clip Tails  Calving Boxes Disinfect regularly, Use Stalosan F after every calving....Read More


Herd Health & Biosecurity

Dairygold and Teagasc are making a determined effort to put herd health on the dairy farmer’s agenda for the next three years. This will be achieved by providing services and information to milk suppliers....Read More

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