Ev­ery day at grass is bonus but...

Irish Examiner - Farming - - GENERAL FARMING - An­thony O’Con­nor, Tea­gasc Ad­viser, Gal­way/Clare Re­gional Unit

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).

Fod­der sup­ply

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.

Grass Te­tany

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.

Re­place­ment heifers

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.

Beef cat­tle

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.

Fin­ish­ing in­doors

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.

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