Without wanting to sound too morose and, dare I say it, a ‘stereotypically grumpy farmer’, it has been a tough year for farmers this year. Between the late, very wet, very cold spring which meant winter extended into May, and then a drought during the summer, it’s been a year that involved a lot of extra work as we were still doing winter work for weeks during the heatwave. Without even thinking about the bank balance, a lot of farmers [...]
Are Cows Just Numbers?
Every Irish bovine has a number that is individual to them. It’s called a tag number and they have to wear a bright yellow tag in each ear. Each bovine is also issued with a passport which contains details such as their sire (father), dam (mother), date of birth, breed and sex. The passport must accompany them if they are being sold or sent to the factory. Before such documentation became compulsory, many farmers gave their cows [...]
Do cows know when they are related? Do mothers and daughters stay close? What about sisters? We’ve often noticed cows that are twins grazing close together. Sometimes cows will form a mother and daughter bond even if they aren’t related. Lucy, one of our favourite cows, was lying in her cubicle recently (yes, she has her own cubicle and no other cow dares to try and lie there) and on either side of her were two of her daughters, Lucy [...]
It’s more of a comparison than a tale but like a lot of dairy farmers, we’re constantly trying to improve the quality of our herd and we’ve been working on improving milk solids for a number of years through breeding, milk recording and grass management. When the milk recording information comes, we’re looking at milk volumes for the individual cows but also their fat and protein percentages. Before we started milk recording, the ‘best cows’ were great on volume but [...]
It’s been an interesting farming week at Garrendenny in terms of the calves born. At exactly the half way mark of 65 calves, 40 dairy heifer have been born (plus three Hereford cross heifers) so it’s an excellent ratio for us. As dairy farmers, we prefer heifers – they are higher value and it gives us more choice in two years time regarding which ones we want to keep in our own herd (we sell the others to other dairy [...]