John and Veronica Cullinane are dairy farming with their three children in Ballineen and are also taking part in Teagasc’s farm monitor programme
THE Cullinane family milks 140 cows on a milking platform of 53 hectares in Ballineen, as well as farming a number of outside blocks for replacement heifers and silage.
Cows are fed 4kgs of meal in the parlour and the current performance of the herd is 30 litres at 3.74% butterfat and 3.44% protein.
They are producing high quality milk with somatic cell count at 40.
In their key tasks for April the herd will be milk recorded in the coming week. This is critical for producing high quality milk and enables them to deal with any mastitis cases quickly.
The farm was soil sampled in early February.
Slurry and fertiliser has been applied accordingly and nutrients targeted at those fields and paddocks that need the nutrients most.
The second grazing round started on Monday April 4th but John is still zero-grazing the silage ground on an out farm for the evening grass.
All the milking platform has got 60 units of nitrogen made up of fertiliser and topped up with slurry to reach the target.
It is important to reach this level to ensure there is a good supply of grass in the second and third grazing rounds.
The Cullinanes have invested in additional slurry storage over the past winter, which meant that they did not need to spread any slurry until mid-March.
Slurry has been sent for laboratory analysis to get an accurate reading on the N,P,K content of the slurry produced on the farm.
To date, the silage ground has got 2,500 gallons per acre of slurry and, based on the analysis results, this will be topped up with 24-2.5-10 fertiliser to reach the required fertiliser level for a good yield of first cut silage.
Breeding for 2022 will commence on April 20th. All cows are calved since the end of March. Conception to first service in 2021 was 70%.
High submission rates and good conception rates are a prerequisite of a tight calving pattern.
Cows that had problems at calving, have been washed out and cows lacking in condition have got a fertility mineral. The herd will be bred to a team of high EBI black and white bulls for the first three weeks.
Gene Ireland straws with an average EBI of €325 will be used as part of the bull team. John and Veronica have traditionally reared and sold incalf heifers from the herd, but this year due to the declining market, they are considering using a beef sires at the end of the breeding season.
John does his own DIY AI on the farm. Insemination will be done morning and evening, based on observations of heat. Heat detection aids are used on the farm to help.
• Aoife Healy is a business and technology dairy advisor based in the Teagasc office in Clonakilty. She works with farmers in the Dunmanway area.