It may sound early, but farmers need to start thinking about fertiliser for spring grassland for medium and highly stocked farms, farms stocked at greater than 2.0LU/ha). This is according to the latest advice from Teagasc.

In terms of early nitrogen, cattle slurry is a good source of nitrogen (N), P and K, it says.

“Once the closed period has needed apply to fields that will be grazed from mid-March onwards. Applying 23,000 litres/ha, 2,000 gallons per acre, can provide up to 22kg N/ha, 15 units N/acre. On suitable soils, apply 30kg N/ha, approximately 23 units/acre) as the initial application from mid to late January.”

Teagasc also cautions on ‘fat cows’.

“Pre-calcing BCS affects fertility. Thin or over-fat cows are less fertile than cows calling at BCS 3.0-3.25. Silage quality is good this year. Later calving cows, March to April, that are currently in good condition (BCS 3.0 or greater) should be on restricted silage or a diet of silage and straw to limit their gain.”

In terms of Johne’s disease, according to Animal Health Ireland, once Johne’s disease is present on the farm, two steps are crucial for its control.

“Removing any infected animals from the herd, infected animals that test positive on blood or milk are more likely to be shedding the bacteria in their faces, and these animals should therefore be prioritised for culling.

“Also key is the maintenance of a high level of hygiene within the calf environment, calf areas must be kept clean and free of adult cattle dung. Start now by cleaning out and disinfecting calving areas before the calving season begins. Importantly, the bacteria can be transmitted in colostrum and milk, avoid feeding calves milk from infected cows and don’t pool colostrum.”

Teagasc also advices to take particular care of the replacement heifers. How you manage them in the first few weeks is crucial to ensuring that they don’t require the disease.”

Pictured: Fertiliser spreading. Photo O’Gorman Photography