Growth has been stronger than average again this week and farms where a late application of fertiliser was spread before the closing date on 15 September are enjoying a noticeable boost in growth rates.
However, this looks set to slow down from this week on with lower daytime temperatures forecast combined with shortening daylight hours. It means that many farms will hit peak farm covers this week. Unfortunately, looking at PastureBase figures, most farms have less than 80% of the target average farm cover currently.
This means the average housing date will have to be sooner than last year all else being equal. On heavier farms where there is a demand for quality grass in early spring either for ewes and lambs or freshly calved suckler cows, the first paddocks need to start to be closed from this weekend. Target a dry sheltered paddock fairly close to the yard that will offer opportunities to get out and get grazed if spring conditions are favourable.
Tetany continues to be an issue on some farms so stay on high alert for it. Place high-magnesium lick buckets out with cows or place a bale of straw or hay in a feeder for them at grass.
A reminder for those completing dung sampling as part of the BEEP-S scheme, samples need to be returned to labs by 1 October so that they can be processed in time for the 1 November scheme closing date.
Also for those yet to weigh cattle, remember that it has to be completed prior to weaning and weights must be submitted to ICBF within seven days of weighing cattle.
Newford Herd, Athenry
Weaning has been completed, with male calves back to grass nearly three weeks while the heifers were turned back out this week. There is plenty of grass on farm and if weather is in our favour we have another month to six weeks ahead of weanlings. They are being fed 2kg/day concentrate at grass. They were slow to start feeding but now that they are weaned meal intakes are much better.
The 12 cull cows have been housed for finishing, with three sufficiently fleshed and ready to go. The rest will take a few weeks’ feeding. Between culls and cows lost to TB we are just about keeping cow numbers steady for next year with 23 in-calf heifers to join the herd. The last seven 2021-born heifers will be drafted for slaughter next week alongside some of the bullocks.
System Suckler to beef
Soil type Mostly dry
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 897
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 18
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 31
Hackballscross, Co Louth
There was a noticeable change in the weather over the last few days, with temperatures much lower. Growth has been good up to now but things are slowing down. I did house some beef heifers and bulls for feeding so that reduced the demand for grass somewhat, which was a help.
The spring-born calves have just had creep feed introduced to them so they are starting to come in on that. There are some calves fit for weaning which we will get to in the next few weeks. The cows have a bale of hay or straw with them for tetany purposes.
The autumn herd is nearly finished calving with only five left to go. The earliest calved cows were in for their BVD and lepto vaccinations this week ahead of breeding starting in late October.
System Suckler to beef
Soil type Free-draining
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 988
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 46
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 48
Knockcroghery, Co Roscommon
There has been a great response to late application fertiliser over the last three weeks. It has really helped to boost grass supplies on farm which is going to be a great help in keeping calves at grass for the next few weeks. I have some slurry to get out which is mostly going on paddocks that the cows have grazed. I will start to close paddocks from this weekend.
The finishing cattle are still at grass as well and we continue to draft stock for slaughter. At this point 21 Angus heifers have been slaughtered at an average carcase weight of 265kg. This week the first of the Angus bullocks will be drafted alongside some more heifers. They are now getting 6kg/day concentrate as most of the cattle left are bullocks with a good share of them Friesians.
System: Dairy calf to beef
Soil type: Mostly dry
Farm cover (kg DM/ha): 481
Growth (kg DM/ha/day): 45
Demand (kg DM/ha/day): 30