It has been a busy few weeks here in Abbeyleix. Breeding started with the cows, and it’s my first year doing the AI myself, so hopefully in three weeks’ time there won’t be any more repeats than other years. We have collars on the cows and they are 100% at picking up the bulling cows. The collars are also linked to our drafter for automatic drafting and this takes a lot of the work out of the breeding season. We have 65% of the cows served now in two weeks.

We scanned 10 cows that showed up on the collars as non-cycling or with irregular heats. Four of these cows had cysts and needed a progesterone insert (CIDR). The others were fine and just needed an injection of estrumate.

We had to go back feeding silage at three bales per day and 6kg of nuts for a week, as grass was getting tight and we were going into covers of around 1,000kg DM/ha. Everyone I have spoken to in the last few weeks were the same. We are back on track now though with no silage and 4kg of nuts and going into covers of 1,400kg DM/ha.

One cow got e-coli mastitis two weeks ago with the wet weather and luckily the collars alerted us quickly to it and we got her treated early. The cows went back in yield with that wet week and then silage in the diet to around 27 litres but are starting to move back up now with the warm weather. The solids have stayed pretty much the same at 4.29% fat and 3.58% protein, the latest result.

The two paddocks the calves were on are closed for bales, as we have found before that the cows don’t like grazing them after the calves. The calves went down to the contract rearer last week. The maiden heifers were artificially inseminated (AI) down at the rearers last week too, and Noel (our rearer) is going to put a teaser bull in with them and AI any repeats. I will bring down the bull then for the third round of repeats, hopefully there will be none.

The breeding bulls are nearly all gone, with one bull still available for sale and a couple still to be collected.

Our new silage walls also arrived and we got them put in place. It wasn’t the simplest job installing them as they weigh 4.2t each and we needed a track machine to stand them up and a loading shovel to move them. The pit looks a great job now though and it should make covering the pit much easier and safer, with walls all around.

We also put in a new roadway on one of the outblocks. Last autumn it was getting fairly mucky and rough when going to check the heifers. So now it will leave it a lot nicer for the tractors going in and out at the silage and slurry, and for ourselves checking the heifers at the back-end of the year.

We had a slightly higher thermoduric result lately of 180 (up from 50), and when I went looking I found the last milk meter wasn’t cleaning right. I then found a pin hole in the pipe coming from the wash line to the jetter tray; once I replaced the pipe and washed the machine again, the meter was perfect. Acting on the test results and finding the problem early can save a lot of hassle later on.

We got the sheep sheared this week too by my brother-in-law Killian; we also put pour-on on them to prevent maggots, now that the good weather has finally arrived.

My wife and I also completed our BISS applications last week.

Our student Kevin finished up with us last week too. He was a great help here all spring, but he got away lucky without having to do any power-washing, as Cillian, who is with us full-time, launched into that. He has two cubicle sheds, the calving boxes and the main calf shed done, so he is going well at it.

I also managed to get away to the Leinster game in Croke Park. It was nice to get away from the farm for a while, with a great atmosphere and a nice win. But, I would say there wasn’t too many more of the over 83,000 people there, that were pulling CIDRs out of heifers the following morning.