The wintry conditions of hail showers did not deter a large turnout of farmers at the recent UGS farm walk at Omagh.
In welcoming the UGS, Cormac Cunningham outlined the development of the leased farm at Crevenagh and emphasized that the success of a lease depends on the landlords, quality of the land, availability of labour and selection of the most suitable type of stock.
Visitors saw the herd of NZ Fr/Jersey cows out grazing in a paddock system with areas selected on the basis of grass cover and ground conditions. Farm Manager Cathal McAlear emphasized the importance of cow type and using EBI bulls to raise milk protein levels and improve fertility.
The spring calving herd is currently achieving M+18 litres/cow from grass, with 4kgs/hd of a 14% protein nut fed flat rate.
Cathal told those attending: “Meal levels will be cut to 2kg/cow/day in the next few days as grass analysis shows excellent quality at 24% protein and 12.4 ME. This will support M+24 l/cow. The herd is currently averaging 27 l/cow/day and I’m keeping a close eye on milk protein levels as this indicates if the cows are receiving enough energy.”
The importance of soil fertility was highlighted by Dr Stan Lalor of Grassland AGRO who had dug two soil profiles at differing points in a field with a significant slope.
Stan told UGS members: “Although the soils are broadly formed from the same material, they are different in how they behave and grow grass, and this will impact on how they should be managed. The average ph of the total field when sampled was 6.1, but the flat area at the bottom had a higher pH and that on the slope was lower. There is also a difference in P and K levels between the two areas.”
The issues of run-off, compaction and aeration were discussed and Stan advised that any mechanical intervention should be targeted for the specific problem being faced.
The final stop of the visit involved Jason McMinn from Farmgate Consultancy who discussed the performance of the spring calving system on the host farm, and compared it to the higher yielding herd managed by the Cunningham family on another farm.