While as all farmers know there is always a job to be done on every farm. These latest management tips from Teagasc are sure to keep beef farmers busy this December.
Farmers should have all cattle housed by now. This will give paddocks a chance to recover, allowing a build up of grass for early spring grazing. Aim to have your silage fields available to graze in late February/early March.
Housing – Pen stock according to sex, age and weight. This will reduce bullying in pens, while helping regulate feed/meal levels.
Silage – Your silage quality will determine the feeding strategy for all your stock. Farmers should consider having a detailed laboratory analysis costing only €36. Knowing silage feeding value will help regulate meal feeding and could reduce amount of concentrates being fed.
Beef Cattle – Unfinished cattle which were on concentrates at grass can be finished indoors (within two months) on silage and meal fed ab lib. Ration needs to be high energy, low protein 12 to 14% CP. Teagasc research has shown the higher the energy, the quicker the finish. Farmers should aim to slaughter cattle when they are well finished at fat classes 3, 4- and 4= and preferably under 30 months.
Sucklers – Pen dry suckler cows according to their Body Condition Score. Restrict feed to cows at BCS4, while increasing feed levels to cows at BCS2 or less. Parasites – Treat all housed stock against stomach worms, hoose, lice and fluke.
All housed cattle need to be treated against all stages of Liver Fluke. Consult your vet on the most effective product to use on your herd. Read each product leaflet carefully to check withdrawal periods.
Replacement Heifers – Farmers should aim to calve down at two years of age. Spring 2014 born weanling heifers, weighing 300kg are well capable of gaining 50kg over the winter and another 50-60kg at grass next spring to be over 400kg going to the bull. Teagasc research shows treating heifers properly for parasites, feeding a reasonable amount of meals while they are on silage and early turn out to grass will help achieve this.
Lime, P and K – Soil sample results have shown very low levels of these three essential nutrients in soils on farms across the region. 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 all work together effectively. Taking soil samples will pinpoint fields low in Lime, P and K. These are the fields that slurry and FYM have to be spread on in 2015.
Tagging – Ensure all cattle on your farm are tagged correctly in each year and have corresponding passports. All animals must be recorded in your Herd Register. Likewise for sheep, all stock over nine months of age must have an electronic tag in each ear and must be entered in the Flock Register.
Herd Register – Many people will have sold/purchased weanlings/cattle this back end. All farm to farm stock movements should be recorded in your Herd Register immediately. It’s the responsibility of the buyer and the seller to ensure that these details are submitted to the DAFM within seven days and that the cattle are taken off or added onto the herd register.
Veterinary Products – Details of any veterinary dose/treatment given to livestock must be entered in the Animal Remedies Record on the reverse side of your Herd Register or in your Bord Bia Recording book.
By Anthony O’Connor, Teagasc Adviser, Galway/Clare Regional Unit