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Ger McSweeney November/December Update 2023

Diets for winter 2024

Diets for winter 2024

  • Silage samples results are back
  • Balancing diets based on results
  • Ger’s plans to further improve silage quality in 2024
Weights & factory performance

Weights & factory performance

  • Weanlings bulls penned according to weights
  • Latest weights or heifers
  • Finishing cattle performance
Reducing work on the farm

Reducing work on the farm

  • Reducing work by investing in a new meal bin
  • Saving 1-2 hours per week on transporting ration
  • Rodent proof and tips to the side when nearly empty

Animal Nutrition

Ger tested his silage and he results were as follows;

First cut

  • 6% DMD with 14.27% crude protein at 27.78% dry matter (cut 23rd May)
  • 8% DMD with 12.62% crude protein at 35.55% dry matter (cut 1st June)

Second cut

  • 24% DMD with 16.33% crude protein at 18.56% dry matter (cut 10th August)
  • Weanlings: 67.8% DMD silage and 2kg of a 16% CP ration. The smaller ones are getting 2.5kg of ration. They could also be fed 70.6% DMD silage and 2kg of a 14% CP ration.
  • Growing bulls: 67.8% DMD silage and 4.5kg of a 14% CP ration.
  • Finishing bulls: 67.8% DMD silage and 10kg of a 12% CP ration.

Based on these results he will feed the following diets this winter;

While disappointed with one of the first cut samples, Ger was pleasantly surprised by the 70.6% DMD silage. Based on this years’ experience he will tweak his silage plans as follows for next year:

  • If the paddock is not grazed, cut in early May
  • If it was grazed in spring, cut it in mid-May
  • Split fields for cutting instead of trying to cut all fields on the same day
  • Spread sulphur and potassium on silage ground to help boost yields
  • Graze silage fields by the end of March at the latest


The 4 finishing heifers were weighed on 27th November. They averaged 563kg and gained 1.71kg/day since 6th November. They are eating 4.5kg of ration.

Four cows and 1 heifer were finished on 21st November. Three of these tested positive for neospora and 2 did not go in calf. The cows averaged 407kg carcass weight, graded R=4+ and made €1670/head. The heifer was 385kg carcass weight and graded R+4+, making €1790.

Cull cows

Figure 1: The cull cows

The 23 bull weanlings were weighed on 17th November and they averaged 409kg, gaining 1.05kg/day since 29th September. They are ranging in weight from 304kg to 524kg and have been penned according to weight. They heaviest pen are on 5kg of ration/head/day, the medium pen are on 4kg/head/day and the lightest bulls are eating 3kg/head/day.

Finishing bulls

Figure 2: The middle pen of bull weanlings

The 17 2023 born heifers were weighed on 6th November and averaged 358kg, after gaining 1.05kg/day since 31st August. They are grouped into 2 pens based on their weights.

Weanling heifers

Figure 3: Spring 2023 weanling heifers

Health & Safety

Ger invested in a portable meal bin to store ration for feeding the bulls. They are housed furthest away from the main meal bin in the yard and previously Ger used to transport bags of meal to the shed for feeding twice daily with the tractor. Now with the portable meal bin it is filled twice per week and stored in the shed. As it empties, it gently tips over on its side to make it easier to access the remaining ration.

Meal container

Figure 4: The new portable meal bin

Ger estimates that it is saving him 1 to 2 hours per week and has the added benefit of being rodent proof. The chute on the meal bin was originally too long for the meal bin to fit underneath so he shortened this and it is a perfect fit now. Ger is using a straight edge bucket for feeding and is finding it much easier than the round edge bucket.

Flat edged bucket

Figure 5: Straight edge bucket being used for feeding