I need to hold back five pens of cat­tle to give them a chance

Irish Independent - Farming - - FARM OUR - JOHN JOYCE

TURNOUT of stock is still on­go­ing on a daily ba­sis, but af­ter as­sess­ing the grass cover and the need to re­plen­ish silage stocks for next year I have made the de­ci­sion to leave in five pens of for­ward store cat­tle in a bid to have them fac­tory fit by mid-June.

This batch of cat­tle in­cludes both bul­locks and heifers and would have huge de­mand on grass if turned out. They are on a diet of 8kgs of a high maize ra­tion with some straw and round bales of silage. I will in­crease the meal over the next two weeks un­til they are on an adlib diet.

Once the sheds heat up in May and they are com­fort­able on the diet they seem to pile on the weight. I have tried this for the last num­ber of years and it has worked out well, ex­cept other years it was with young bulls. It also makes greater use of the sheds.

The big­gest prob­lem I find is to have enough fat cover on the bul­locks. The heifers don’t seem to be a prob­lem once they are on adlib meal. Hope­fully they will be ready for the peak of the beef price be­fore the on­set of grass cat­tle. These cat­tle would also be hard on the land if the weather is poor dur­ing the sum­mer.

The suck­ler cows have been let out in small groups of between five and 10 in dif­fer­ent fields. They will be put to­gether into two larger groups be­fore breed­ing. With low grass cov­ers and poor graz­ing con­di­tions, I de­cided it would be eas­ier to con­trol them in smaller groups.

Calves were also de­horned in small groups and left to set­tle. The cows have ac­cess to high mag buck­ets and are on 2kg on meal a day in a bid to main­tain body con­di­tion on them and slow down grass de­mand. On turnout all cat­tle from wean­lings to cows are in­jected with cop­per as the farm has a cop­per de­fi­ciency.

The cows are given 6mls and the wean­lings 4mls. There seems to be a great response to it and it is not too ex­pen­sive. The younger stocks’ hair coat


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