Every day at grass is bonus but...
Every day you extend the grazing season is a bonus. However, with grass rapidly dwindling, don’t let stock lose condition by leaving them out too long.
Avoid poaching of fields, at all costs.
Aim to have 60% of the farm grazed out by early November, and have most stock housed by late November. Fields closed in late November will not have a supply of grass available until late March or early April. Supplement stock at grass with concentrates, where necessary.
Graze paddocks down to 4cm and close. Weanlings, cull ewes etc can graze out paddocks. House heaviest stock first (dry suckler cows, unfinished beef cattle).
With many farmers having housed some stock early due to weather conditions, there is a need to monitor fodder stocks carefully. Complete a simple fodder budget for your farm.
If a shortage is projected, you may need to purchase extra fodder or reduce stock numbers.
Have a plan in mind to stretch out fodder stocks.
Suckler cows with late-born suckling calves can be left out until late November if they have good grass and dry, underfoot conditions. These cows should have access to magnesium licks to prevent grass tetany occurring.
Thrive needs to be maintained in selected replacements after weaning. They are the future of your herd.
The target average daily gain should be 0.6kg per head/ day.
Continue to feed 1-2kgs per head/day of concentrates after weaning.
Your home bred or purchased heifers which need to be well developed and robust at mating time next year (weighing at least 370kg to 430kg, depending on breed), while calving down at a minimum age of two years. Early turnout before breeding for lighter replacement heifers needs to be considered. If you are involved in the BDGP, these replacements should have a four star or five star rating on the ICBF Eurostar Replacement Index.
For steers/cull cows, at grass, that are within 10kg to 20kg of slaughter weight, continue to feed 3kg-4kg per head/day of a high-energy, low-protein ration. Concentrate feeding will increase carcase weight, conformation score and the kill out percentage.
Aim to have cattle less than 30 months, graded at R3 or R4, at slaughter. Consider selling any underfinished animals at the mart.
Unfinished beef cattle which have been on meal at grass can be housed and fed concentrates ad lib.
This gives a very high daily gain in the short term. These cattle should be fit to slaughter within two months.
PhD for young stock
Weanlings will benefit from a PhD, a Pre-housing Dose, given 2-3 weeks prior to housing. Use an Avermectin based product. These products provide residual cover for a period of 3-6 weeks. Giving a PhD 2-3 weeks before housing will ensure all animal’s lungs are in a healthy condition prior to the high stress housing period.
All stock to be overwintered need to be treated for liver fluke, hoose, worms and lice. Consult your vet on the most suitable product to use. All stock should be treated for fluke infection 14 days after housing.
For young stock, such as weanlings, use a veterinary product that will kill early immature fluke, immature fluke and adult fluke. Depending on what product is used on your herd, it may be necessary to treat again against all stages of liver fluke in eight to 10 weeks’ time.
Apply any lime required on the basis of a soil test now, while weather and ground conditions allow. Lime will unlock any N, P, and K in the soil, making them available for plant growth.
Soil sample results indicate low levels of P and K on farms. Both are essential for plant growth, for the uptake and utilisation of nitrogen by grass plants.
Ensure you have a correct balance of P, K and lime on your farm.
Taking soil samples and following the recommendations of your Teagasc adviser or agricultural consultant will achieve this, while controlling fertiliser costs by pinpointing fields that have a deficit/surplus of P and K.
Garda Tom Brosnan, PSV Office, Bandon, advising on agricultural vehicle and trailer use on the public roads at last week’s Teagasc/Health and Safety Authority farm safety practical event in the Clonakilty Agricultural College, Co Cork.