Dairy advice: 3 jobs to complete on the farm pre-calving

With the Christmas period now behind us, attention is back to the farm and what jobs need to be completed over the next month.

The following are some of the things you should be getting ticked off your to-do list, if you haven’t already done so.

Vaccinate Against Scour

Calf rearing on farms can be very labour intensive, even more so if there is an outbreak of scour. Rotavirus is the most common cause of calf scour, which usually affects calves when they are between five and 14 days old.

Also Read: Vaccinating against scour in suckler herds

According to Animal Health Ireland (AHI), vaccinating cows pre-calving will ensure that the cow’s colostrum contains antibodies that protects against scours caused by rotavirus, coronavirus and E.coli.

Where it is an issue, or if there is a risk of it becoming an issue, a one-shot vaccine can be given between three and 12 weeks before calving. Farmers are advised to speak with their vet before selecting a vaccine.

Take Soil Samples

Now is an ideal time to take soil samples, as it’s recommended not to sample a field until three-to-six months after the last application of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and two years where lime was applied.

Anyone who doesn’t have a set of up-to-date soil samples should be taking samples. It is important to note that soil test results should be no greater than five-years old. Some farmers will take samples more regularly than this, but all should aim to take samples every three-to-five years.

The principle of soil analysis is to determine the average nutrient status of an area and to give a measure of the available nutrients in the soil. A sample normally consists of 0.25-0.5kg of soil and this is taken to represent the entire sampling area or field.

Once soil sample results are returned, a fertiliser plan for the coming year can be drawn up. This will take the guesswork out of the amount or type of fertiliser to purchase in the spring.

soil, fertiliser

Get Calving Season Ready

There is not long left until calving season will start on many spring-calving farms.

Calving and calf sheds should be cleaned out and disinfected and ready for the start of the calving season; any changes or adjustments should also be completed.

Also Read: Have you enough space for all your calves at peak?

If you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to get the list of supplies needed for the calving season.

Also Read: Management hint: Your pre-calving checklist

Not only should you be getting ready for calving, but you should also be getting prepared for the grazing season that lays ahead.

Is your grazing infrastructure up to the task? If not, use this time between now and the start of calving to ensure nothing, other than poor weather, will prevent you from turning cows out early this spring.