Contract rearing of the replacement heifers off farm has
allowed a high degree of specialisation in milking cows
at Shinagh dairy farm. The original herd of 200 in-calf
heifers comprised of 50 per cent black and white, 25 per
cent Jersey cross and 25 per cent Norwegian Red cross
heifers. A further 40 crossbred heifers were bought in 2011
as replacements for the following spring. Every heifer
born on the farm since its establishment is crossbred. The
only straight bred animals on the farm are some of the
original cows that calved for the fi rst time in 2011. Current
breeding policy is that all non-Friesian cows are bred to
a team of high EBI, mostly genomically proven, Friesian
AI sires. The remaining straight bred cows get Jersey AI
straws. The objective is to produce high EBI crossbred
replacement stock for the farm. The replacement heifers
are bred to easy calving Friesian AI bulls as they are all
crossbred at this stage In the spring 2018 calving season,
92 per cent of the 257 cows and heifers calved in the fi rst 6
weeks and the calving interval was 368 days. Mean calving
date this year was 18th February with half of the herd
calved in 17 days. All calving was completed in 13 weeks.
The empty rate at the end of 2017 was 6.7 per cent.
Kevin operates a `12 days on, two days off ' work rota
during calving season. This starts on a Monday with Kevin
and the student working for 12 days. The relief help comes
in on weekends to cover time off .
Measuring and managing grass
Kevin has been measuring grass growth rates on the farm
since the conversion took place. Ninety per cent of the
farm is at index 3 for P&K and at optimum pH (6.0-6.3).
Grass measurement is carried out by the farm team. The
walk allows everyone to get a better understanding of the
grassland management plan for the week ahead - whether
to supplement or remove grass surpluses. All fertiliser and
slurry application, reseeding, spraying and silage making is
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The Ploughing Championships
Block 2, Row 12, Stand 262