James Skehan March Update
Complete 2021 profit monitor
- Analyse 2021 profit monitor
- Identify where highest costs are
- Pick 3 key areas to focus on for 2022
Follow nutrient management plan for 2022
- Put nutrient management plan in place for your farm
- Correct soil pH first, the phosphorus and potassium indexes
- Identify paddocks that could potentially be over sown with clover
Monitor animal performance
- Weigh cattle before turnout to grass
- Identify stock for selling
- Check local prices to estimate how much your cattle are worth before selling them
James completed his profit monitor for 2021. Three main key focus areas for James this year will be to:
- Increase his output per livestock unit (currently 318.4 kg/LU) to over 350 kg/LU
- Reduce purchased concentrate costs (€185/ha)
On James’s farm this can be done by improving weight gain at grass which will be helped this year by his new paddock system and by reseeded grassland on the outfarm to improve the quality of the grass in the cattle’s diet. James will continue to ensure that any cow that does not go in calf should not be kept on the farm. It was discovered through faecal egg sampling that there is rumen fluke present on the farm which affected the winter thrive of the weanlings. Cattle can be treated for it earlier this year to reduce the weight loss over winter. James will continue to ensure that any purchased replacements are genotyped and have positive figures of milk, docility and calving interval. James has been continually improving his silage quality over the last 2 years. He has his silage ground grazed now and will plan to make >70% DMD silage to increase weight gains in weanlings over the first winter.
By making >70% DMD silage, James hopes to reduce the amount of ration that will be fed to weanlings over the winter period. Some thin cull cows had to be fed ration to build body condition before calving so these can be monitored this year and have options to be weaned early, fed excellent quality silage or left at grass longer than the other cows to reduce the need for ration this year.
- Invest in lime to get more value from fertiliser and slurry
The pH of James’s farm has increased significantly over the last 4 years, but as 50% of the farm still has a pH of less than 6.2 James will continue to invest in lime, and in turn improve the response to fertiliser (€192/ha) and slurry on his farm this year.
A nutrient management plan has been put in place for the farm based on soil samples that were taken from the farm this year.
James took soil samples on his farm in 2018 and 100% of the land was less than the ideal pH of 6.2. He spread lime on the farm based on the sample recommendations and this has reduced to 50% of the land with a pH of less than 6.2, which is clearly a huge improvement. Continuing to correct the soil pH on the farm will be a priority over the coming years so that all his land will have a pH of over 6.2.
85% of the farm is in index 1 or 2 for phosphorus, so 18-6-12 will play a big role to increase these indexes over the coming years. James will also be using his slurry strategically on silage ground and on the lowest index fields so that nutrient offtakes will be replaced, and to help build the indexes as economically as possible.
The potassium indexes on the farm are quite good, with only 38% of the farm in index 1 or 2. This can be increased by using a combination of slurry, 18-6-12 and muriate of potash (MOP).
A local contractor will be spreading slurry for James this year using a dribble bar to ensure as much nitrogen is retained for use by the grass plant from slurry as possible.
James is considering over sowing clover on part of his farm. For this to be successful, the paddock would require a pH over 6.2, and index 3 or higher for both phosphorus and potassium. One paddock is currently suitable on the farm.
James weighed his yearlings before turning them out to grass. His home-bred bullocks averaged 375 kg, having gained 0.97 kg/day since their previous weighing on 21st of February. The bought in bullocks average 320 kg, having gained 0.94 kg/day since their previous weighing on the same date. This is a massive improvement in average daily gain since the last weights were taken and indicates that the rumen fluke was severely affecting thrive in them. This will have to be watched during the year and this year’s calves will be treated for rumen fluke at housing.
Some of the bullocks (16) were left out to grass on the out farm in Kilcredan on 15th March. The other 17 bullocks were turned out to grass on the home block on the 18th of March and will be moving over to the outblock in the next week.
The heifers have been brought home from the silage ground and were sold in the local mart. The average price was €2.91/kg (range €2.70 to €3.19) at 361kg (range 280kg to 410kg).