Peter Hynes – Cows grazing daily on 3-hour breaks

The weather certainly is challenging this Spring, week after week of rain and storms. Let’s hope we see a bit of normality soon and in the meantime let’s all stay positive as we get close to March. Cows have been grazing daily but on 3-hour breaks, ground is far from ideal, but we are adamant we want grass in the cows’ diet. They are also getting 4kgs of dairy nuts plus quality haylage on the feed rail and it seems to be paying off, with protein at 3.92% and fat at 4.99%.

We have 60% of the herd calved with no issues thankfully, other than one cow that had a big Hereford bull calf and a hard calving so she spent 3 days on a straw bed to gain confidence on her legs whilst being milked with the portable milking machine .The current breakdown of calves stands at 55% Holstein heifers, 25% Holstein bull calves and 20% Hereford calves . We currently have 8 bull calves being genotyped. Our highest genetic merit heifer calf has an EBI €309 parental average which just goes to show the progress made, I can remember back in 2015 our goal was to breed a €200 EBI female.

We purchased a new stock bull recently which has arrived on farm, having passed his fertility test. He is now in an isolation pen away from all other stock and has settled in nicely. Feeding him is my responsibility, I want us to build a mutual respect. I feel this is important as I will be having daily contact with him in the herd. I’ll discuss him in more detail in a later update when I discuss our 2020 bull team.

Erin, Laura and Thomas spent a day on farm with us last week gathering content for the #FutureofFarming campaign. Despite having four seasons in a day, we managed to capture excellent footage of ‘a day in the life’ of #TeamHynes. It’s always a pleasure having people on farm.

My article in the Farming Independent recently discussed genotyping and where it will be in the future. Researching for the article surprised me that so few farms have embraced genotyping and more worrying is the percentage of the national dairy herd that has incorrect parentage. You can find the full article online.

We have been planning 2 charity projects for 2020, the first of which will be announced this week. The main project we have planned for 2020 is part of the RearingToGo campaign, which we started in late 2018.  The main aim will be to create awareness around mental health in agriculture, along with raising funds for suicide prevention. We would hope it will come to light by May with the event scheduled for the end of August. Without a doubt this is the biggest project we’ve taken on to date. Keep an eye out for more details in the coming months.

On farm plans for the next few weeks are to spread the second round of fertiliser and hopefully spread more slurry once ground conditions improve. The first batch of beef calves will be leaving the farm this week to go to a drystock farm. We will move a bunch every week from there forward. We think that it’s important to reduce the amount of calves on farm at any given time to reduce disease build up. Having fewer numbers of calves on farm, combined with weekly cleaning of calf sheds and calving boxes, keeps everything healthy on farm.