As the month of May rolls in, farmers in Ireland are gearing up for a busy season. With numerous tasks to complete, it can be overwhelming to prioritize which jobs need to be focused on first. In this article, we have compiled a list of some of the bigger tasks that need to be addressed this month.
The recent weather conditions have made managing grass trickier than usual for this time of year. Poor cleanouts have unfortunately been fairly common on farms so far, which is why the focus should be on stopping this. As the weather looks set to improve, farmers should aim to achieve residuals and correct any paddocks that have a lot of poor-quality grass present. The hope is that as the weather improves, concentrate feeding within the diet can be somewhat reduced. It is also time to reduce the protein percentage in the nut you are feeding. At this time of year, 14% protein is adequate.
Although the weather has delayed the harvesting of crops on many farms, the target should still be to harvest first cut as early in May as possible. Obtaining the highest quality silage has a number of benefits, including significant cost savings. If you haven’t already cut, it is important that you are ready once conditions allow. Part of this involves ensuring that all machinery is serviced and ready for action. You should also have the silage pit cleaned out, effluent channels cleared, and have all the silage covers you need. Once you have harvested the crop, it is important to get the most out of your slurry and reduce the chemical nitrogen (N) requirements when possible.
This time of year is the ideal time to deal with any weed issues that may be present in paddocks or fields. But it is important to correctly identify the weeds that are an issue and ensure that the correct product is then used to control these weeds.
Breeding is underway on the majority of farms, resulting in an increased workload. The more prepared and the better the plans are, the more smoothly and successful the breeding season should be. With the breeding season underway, safety once again comes into focus, with possible injuries from handling cows or stock bulls possible. For farms that were tracking heats prior to the start of breeding, it is important that once the three weeks are hit, any cow that has not been served is checked. These problem cows need to be checked and corrective actions put in place to get them cycling as quickly as possible. Farmers should also be monitoring submission rates. The target is to have 90% of cows bred in the first three weeks, which means that on average, 4.3% of the herd is served each day.
Costs remain high in 2023, and milk prices have fallen and look like they will continue to fall for now. Because of this, it is important that dairy farmers monitor their costs and make changes where possible to reduce them. A good 2022 means that some farmers were able to build up some savings, but they should avoid eating into these if savings can be made elsewhere. Budgeting is going to be vital in 2023 and will need to be monitored on a monthly basis as cost and milk prices change.
In conclusion, the month of May is a busy time for farmers in Ireland, with numerous tasks to complete. By prioritizing the tasks mentioned above, farmers can ensure that they are making the most of this time and setting themselves up for a successful season. Remember to stay safe and monitor costs to make the most of this year’s farming season.