Sunday, 30 August 2015

Results Day: Scanning 2015

Just a quick blog post today to update you all on what's been happening on farm.

At this time of year we look to build farm cover by extending the grazing round. We build up a bank of grass to keep us grazing until drying off at the end of November. Unfortunately, temperatures have been below average, as has rainfall. This has meant feeding silage a month earlier than planned. But in the last fortnight we finally had significant rain, and covers are now back on target.

Getting ready to scan some heifers!

The other news this month are our scanning results. This year, cows were mated for 12 weeks, 6 weeks of AI and 6 weeks of stock bulls. Heifers all had a single fixed timed AI then ran with Jersey bulls for 12 weeks.

As our favourite vet, "Kiwi" Kate Burnby, was only in the area for a few days, we decided to bite the bullet and scan all 370 cows and 140 heifers in one day. We started in the morning scanning on the vet platform as the cows are milked on the rotary parlour. Kate is so fast at this that the whole process barely added half an hour to our milking time!

The great news was that for the third season in a row only 7% of our cows were empty. With 83% in calf to the 6 week AI.

After some toast and a mug of tea, we set off to the runoff block to scan the R2s. We've never scanned R2s before, but given our surplus of stock we thought it would at least give us the option to sell some. Despite my reservations that these were a smaller group of heifers than the year before, we only found 5% empty (7 heifers), with 84% in the first 6 weeks. We won't know how well they have held to the AI, but Kate seemed confident that a lot of them would be early calving.

We're obviously really pleased with all the results and are now faced with many options for next season. Here are just a few:
1. Keep everything and milk more cows
2. Sell surplus heifers
3. Sell surplus cows
4. Clean out herd with more voluntary culling

Whilst I'm considering all of these, I'd rather not winter any stock I don't intend to keep and milk myself next season. But at the end of the day it's great to have a choice.

Before I sign off  just a quick thanks  to Clawdd Offa for letting us borrow Sue for the day! She was a massive help and it's fair to say we couldn't have managed without her. And of course thanks to Kate for a professional and efficient scanning.

Until next time,
Keep grazing!


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