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James Skehan June Update

Check through your animal health plan

Check through your animal health plan

  • Review your animal health plan
  • Consider timing of vaccinations to ensure cattle have optimum protection
  • Faecal egg samples and AHI Beef HealthCheck reports for finishing cattle are important to identify any major issues with stock on your farm
Continue to measure grass weekly

Continue to measure grass weekly

  • Watch average farm covers as growth drops back this month, target 700-800 kg DM/ha
  • Second cut silage will need 60-80 units N, 10 units P and 60 units K to replace nutrient offtakes
  • 18-6-12 is a well balanced fertiliser for building nutrients on grazing ground
Animal performance at grass

Animal performance at grass

  • Weigh weanlings to see how they have performed at grass since turnout
  • Ensure they are grazing good quality grass covers of ~1400 kg DM/ha
  • Watch for signs of coughing over the coming weeks as they may have lungworm burdens

Animal Health

James reviewed his animal health plan for the farm this month. He started vaccinating against leptospirosis last year with some cows receiving vaccinations in the autumn and others getting it in December. It is recommended that these are given at least 4 weeks pre-calving so James could adjust the timing so that all cows are given it at the same time, around November/December to save on workload.

He gives a vaccination to cows 3 to 12 weeks pre-calving to prevent rotavirus and coronavirus scours in calves and as this has been working exceptionally well in the herd he will continue to do so.

The calves are given a vaccination to prevent against RSV, Pi3 and Mannheimia haemolytica (which cause respiratory disease) in the autumn. The final shot for this is given on the day that the calves are weaned. However this could be adjusted so that they receive the final dose 2 weeks before weaning so that they have adequate immunity before the stress period at weaning. He will also consider vaccinating these against IBR. As James buys in weanlings at the end of the year, it is important to reduce disease pressure on these cattle and they are all vaccinated against the main causes of respiratory disease within 48 hours of arrival on to the farm.  

A mineral bolus is given to the cows pre-calving but as there is no research behind the longevity or reliability of it, he can change the bolus to a different brand which has research behind it and is proven to give a steady release of minerals to last 6 months. James also started giving minerals to cows 4 to 6 weeks pre-calving this year by dusting them over the silage, to ensure that they receive an adequate supply of the major mineral elements of Calcium, Phosphorous, Sodium and Magnesium.

Last winter James discovered through a combination of regular weighing and faecal egg sampling that there is an issue with rumen fluke on the farm. Therefore all cattle will be treated for this immediately at housing to reduce the effects of this, particularly on young stock.

Overall James has an excellent vaccination programme in place for the herd which has addressed any major health concerns on the farm. For dosing and parasites he uses a combination of faecal egg samples and visual observation for symptoms when deciding to treat stock. As he has a heavy farm there is an increased risk for picking up worms and rumen/liver fluke so this is important. Typically cows are only dosed once in the year at housing and the calves are dosed two/three times throughout the grazing season and once at housing. The bought in weanlings are dosed on arrival to the farm. James rotates between Benzimidazole and Macrocyclic Lactone dosing products to reduce the risk of anthelminthic resistance on the farm.


James measured grass on the farm on 17th June. On the home farm he had a farm cover of 585 kg DM/ha with a growth rate of 41 kg DM/ha and a demand of 32 kg DM/ha. He had 18 days of grass ahead and had reduced the pre-grazing cover significantly since the last visit when grass had gotten strong on the farm. As the farm cover is below the target of 700-800 kg DM/ha for the time of year he will have to watch this if weather conditions deteriorate over the coming weeks. He will be able to cut the GLAS traditional hay meadows after 1st July which will help to bring extra grass into the rotation and has also spread 18-6-12 on the other grazing paddocks to boost growth.

The out farm in Kilcredan had a farm cover of 498 kg DM/ha with a growth rate of 34 kg DM/ha and a demand of 40 kg DM/ha, with 12 days ahead. James was aware that there was a slight reduction in growth and has spread 18-6-12 on 15th June, as recommended in his nutrient management plan to help boost growth and increase the farm cover.

The silage ground in Clonboy has received 2000 gallons of slurry per acre which was spread using the trailing show, and 1.2 bags of protected urea/acre to supply approximately 73 units of nitrogen, 10 units of phosphorus and 60 units of potassium for second cut silage to replace the nutrient offtakes from the crop.


The weanling bullocks were weighed on 25th June. James’s home bred bullocks averaged 459 kg, gaining 0.83 kg/day since turnout at grass. The bought in bullocks averaged 398 kg, having gained 0.77 kg/day since turnout. James was a little bit disappointed with the weights and has noticed a few of them coughing in the last week. He will give them a dose against lungworm and stomach worms in case they have a heavy burden which may be affecting their performance.