Breeding season has gone super so far, we’re on day 18 and have hit 90 percent submission so hopefully repeats will be quiet. We will continue AI for 5 or 6 weeks with the stockbull being left off with the herd on the last week of AI, as it can take bulls up to a week to get into their stride. We do this every year and usually inseminate cows with a different beef breed, which has proven to us that at least 50 percent of cows served that week hold to AI.

All heifers now have scratch cards and tail paint, so we will monitor them closely for repeats. Our middle daughter, Becky, has been learning heat detection this year and is fairly sharp at picking out cows bulling. So, she will do heat detection on the heifers with the incentive that we will pay her €20 for every repeat she picks up that is on heat. Although I’ll check them daily myself, Becky will monitor them twice daily. Heat detection is a great stockmanship skill to have, so I have no issue giving her the financial incentive as well. It will stand to her in later life. Ultimately heat detection will make or break a herd and in order to hit 90 percent six-week calving rates, it is vital heats are picked up, with cows being inseminated at the right time.

The weather has been fantastic although the rain last week was welcomed as paddocks were becoming very dry. We’ve had a big grass surge since, with more paddocks mowed for surplus bales today. We have our silage contactor booked so we will mow 100 acres of first cut silage on Saturday, we mow into single swarths and then rake 24 hours later, with the harvester picking up early on Monday morning. We will be using Ecosyl silage additive this year to further improve the quality of silage. The idea being to reduce the PH of the pit within 48 hours. We have reduced protein levels in dairy ration and by increasing silage quality we can continue to feed low protein ration during winter housing.

We are feeding 12% dairy ration since early April and we are glad we made the decision, as cows are in super condition and the protein levels in the milk haven’t been affected. Fat has stayed above 4% running up to 4.20% with protein above 3.50% in April and May.

All beef calves have now been sold off farm and all heifer calves are out at grass, receiving 1kg high protein nuts per head daily. We have a few bull calves retained which are all being halter trained by Becky at the moment. They will stay indoors on ad lib calf nuts and calfage until such time as they are walking properly on halters. They have all been Genotyped with EBIs above 360, so they should make nice stockbulls.

Hopefully, restrictions will continue to be lifted over the coming weeks and months, with some form of normality returning. We should be in Belfast today as I was due to speak at a veterinary conference, which like everything else was cancelled. It will be great to get out and about in a few months meeting people again. In the meantime, it’s important to stay positive and without doubt there will be many positives to come out of lockdown. Hope you all stay safe and with a busy few weeks upon us, all please stay safe around machinery and make sure kids are aware of the dangers around machinery. For those using stockbulls, please be especially vigilant as a bull can never be trusted. We all work in the most dangerous work environment but we also all have the power to make it a lot safer!