How this 180-cow farm is managing the effects of the drought

The drought has cost us €16,000 in additional feed, we’re just hoping he milk price holds,” says Adrian Claffey a dairy farmer from Mount Temple, Co Westmeath.

Adrian, who is in a farming partnership with his father said its costing him an additional €370 a day to feed his 180 cows through the effects of the drought. “We have a 115-acre milking platform and we would be highly stocked in a good year,” said Adrian.

According to Teagasc, farm cover should be maintained at 150-170kg DM per cow. The Claffey’s farm cover currently stands at 100kg DM per cow. “We’re feeding on to try and fill in the gap,” said Adrian.

In order to manage the grass shortage, the Westmeath farmers have lengthened the rotation length and provided a sacrifice paddock to buffer feed in at night time.

“We’re feeding baled silage, beet pulp nuts and palm kernel ad lib. They’re also feeding meal, with no fresh grass at night time. “A small bit of grass and ad lib palm kernel are fed during the day to keep the cows happy,” says Adrian.

“We’re after buying 120 bales of hay for the winter and have sourced 200t of beet,” said Adrian. “We’re also hoping to baled silage from the neighbours if they’ve any to spare,” he said.

“The second cut was brought in on the 10 of July and the ground was fertilised on the 19 so we’re hoping for a decent 3 cut with good rain which will give us a boost,” said Adrian.

“Once we hit an average farm cover of 170, we’ll cut back to the normal run-of-the-mill 3 kilos of meal and cut out silage,” said Adrian.

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“We can’t afford to run into our winter feed,” he said.

“It’s a family partnership but we still need two wages to keep the place going,” said Adrian. “We’re lucky the sisters are around for the summer with all the extra work the drought brings, they’ve been a big help,” he said.

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