What suckler farmers should be doing with their herd in July

Assessing cows for milk yield in suckler herds and dosing weanlings for stomach worms are two of the things that beef farmers should be doing in July, Teagasc says.

A recent study by Teagasc at Grange has demonstrated the importance of milk yields when it comes to maximising the weaning weight in calves in a suckler herd.

The extra weight a suckler calf puts on when it is suckling on the cow stays with it throughout its life, Teagasc says.

A suckler cow that does not have reasonably good milk yields has no place on a suckler farm and, more importantly, should not be providing any replacement heifers for the herd, warns Teagasc.

If milk yield is one of the more important drivers of weight gain then it must be measured so that:

  • Poor yielding cows can be culled and replaced.
  • High yielding cows can be identified to keep replacements from.
  • The accuracy of the breeding indexes for your cows and heifers can be increased.

Weighing calves while they are still suckling is the best way to estimate the amount of milk their mothers are providing to them, Teagasc advises.

Teagasc recommends that this should be done when they are between 150 and 250 days of age as their weight at this stage.

This due to the fact the calf is is less influenced by the amount of grass they are eating and the younger they are the less meal (if any) they will be eating, it says.

Teagasc says the ICBF provides a weighing service for all farmers, and they will also record the weights on their database so that they can be used to assess the breeding value of the cows.

If you are using your own weighing scales make sure to enter the weights online through HerdPlus, Teagasc says. The more weights that are recorded, the more accurate the star ratings of your cows will be, it says.

July is the month for removing the bull and stopping your breeding season:

  • Dosing weanlings for stomach worms and hoose.
  • Assessing how much winter fodder you have.
  • Taking out any surplus grass to maintain leafy swards.
  • Preventing summer mastitis in dry autumn calvers.
  • Introducing forward creep grazing of weanlings.
  • Castrating spring-born bulls.
  • Ensuring that all sheds are cleaned out and disinfected.
  • Reseeding poor performing fields.