Fodder shortage advice for beef and dairy farms
If this winter/spring ever ends, stock might get out to the fields, and when this occurs, careful management is required for a smooth transition to grass. Many freshly calved suckler cows will be turned out to grass in the week or two, weather permitting. Or should that be, feed supplies limiting?
Grass covers are very disappointing around the country, if it warms up, grazing swards off will be the best way to encourage growth, if sufficient fertiliser was applied.
There have been reports of suckler cows going down with tetany in the recent cold and wet spell, due to magnesium deficiency. Grass is inherently deficient in magnesium, and it is worth noting that cows are generally deficient in magnesium long before they drop with tetany. A magnesium deficiency may result in poor saliva production, and subsequently poorer digestion of feed, and lower production. Magnesium is a major mineral essential for performance in cattle. There are many ways to get sufficient magnesium into cows, some more effective than others. High-mag lick buckets are probably the most common method in Ireland, and work very well if buckets are always accessible. Some use a high-Observed mag feed block to supplement grass and prevent tetany. Magnesium in water troughs is a popular method but may be less effective in wet weather when cows drink less from troughs.
Some may feed a dairy meal to sucklers at times of tetany risk, particularly if grass is in short supply. Dusting of paddocks with magnesium may work very well but I am not convinced it is the most effective method. Be sure of your facts before you depend on any single method of tetany protection, and stick rigidly to whatever method you choose. The cost of prevention is insignificant compared to losing cows.
Getting cows back in calf
Increasing grass intake quickly for both cow and calf will improve performance and reduce stress. At turn out, the most important things to monitor are grass intake and rumen fill. Poor grass intakes should be supplemented with forages or concentrates. Most sucklers cows will lose body condition after calving. This needs to be controlled in order to produce enough quality milk for her calf while going back in calf quickly. Grass quality and supply will determine if you need to supplement cows with additional forage or concentrates .
An infertile or sub-fertile bull can throw your calving pattern into total disarray. Empty cows are a serious cost to any herd. Monitor your bull’s activity closely, aim to keep accurate heat detection records. heats should be recorded, to watch for repeats; this will aid in uncovering any issues with fertility.
If buying a new bull, try to get him on the farm well in advance of putting him to work.
Many breeders now get bulls fertility tested before sale. It gives the buyer and seller great peace of mind. Buyers should demand a recent fertility cert before parting with money for a new bull.
Breeding will begin soon, so get your new or old bull ready for action! Bulls should be in good body condition before the breeding season starts.
Independent dairy and beef nutrition consultant Brian Reidy, Premier Farm Nutrition, can be contacted at email@example.com
The champion Angus at the recent Corrin Mart bull show and sale, Sheafield Neville, shown by owner Norman Richardson, Carrick-On-Shannon, Co Leitrim; included are Ben and Elaine Ryall, Watergrasshill, who judged the show, and mart committee members...