January heralds a new year and the first shoots of new growth throughout the countryside.

Grass growth can be boosted by the application of slurry to bare fields from January 16 if weather and ground conditions are suitable.

Aim to graze silage fields in six weeks’ time with prioritised groups of stock before closing them for first cut silage.

If you have heavy grass cover on other fields, graze them first, before applying Nitrogen.


Sheep/Goat Census 2015 -Don’t be left counting the cost and feeling ‘baa-d’ due to returning this form late. The Census date was Sunday, December 13, 2015.

Not only is it a legal obligation to return this form to the Department of Agriculture before Friday January 29, 2016, payments for the Basic Payment Scheme, Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme, AEOS, GLAS are dependent on a completed form being returned before January 29.

Information from the Census forms is used to calculate stocking rate for schemes etc. Check all sections and answer all questions asked.

Ensure to fill diagram on flock brand used and return all completed forms by post or online to Government Buildings, Portlaoise.

The only acceptable proof of postage is registered or express post receipts; a postal certificate is no longer acceptable as proof of postage.


Finishing Cattle – A fast finish is the most efficient for forward beef cattle.

Feed a high energy, low protein ration ad lib plus silage for two months. Ensure cattle have access to clean water at all times.

Liver Fluke – There’s no point feeding parasites. Treat all housed cattle against all stages of Liver Fluke.

Consult your vet on the most effective product to use on your herd.

Body Condition Score (BCS) – spring calving suckler cows need to be at BCS 2.5 at calving. Suckler cows should be divided and fed according to their BCS status.

Restrict feed to fat cows, while thin cows may need concentrates in order to meet their BCS at calving.

Mineral Supplementation -Silage is generally well balanced in major minerals but is deficient in trace elements such as Copper, Selenium and Iodine.

However, offer dry cow mineral licks (in buckets) or a mix containing Phosphorous, Magnesium and Sodium as well as trace minerals should be fed at a rate of 100g/hd/day for 4 to 6 weeks before calving.

Calving – prepare NOW – Wash and disinfect calving boxes.

Acquire an adequate supply of straw, have calving equipment available.

Farm Management

Lime, P and K – Now is the ideal time to take soil samples to establish the levels of these three essential nutrients in soils on your farm.

The level and balance of P, K and Lime in the soil is vital for grass growth. Both P and K are essential for the uptake and utilisation of Nitrogen by grass plants.

Lime is the cement in the mix of NPK that makes them available to promote grass growth. Taking soil samples will pinpoint fields low in Lime, P and K.

These are the fields that slurry, FYM and chemical fertiliser have to be spread on after January 16.

Farm Safety

Last year over 2,500 were seriously injured in farm accidents. Don’t let it happen to you or your family in 2016.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, think safety first. Plan to eliminate hazards around farms.

Have a quick look around for maintenance tasks to be completed urgently. Don’t take any unnecessary risks. Complete and update your Risk Assessment Document.

Take action on risks highlighted. Attend a Farm Safety training course at your local Teagasc centre.

Children – A farmyard is not a playground. Have a safe play area for children where they can be seen and supervised at all times. Cherish and look after children, they are the future

By Anthony O’Connor, Teagasc Adviser, Galway/Clare Regional Unit