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James Skehan September/October Update 2023

Scanning results for spring 2023

Scanning results for spring 2023

  • Scanning results
  • 92% conception rate
  • James is considering his options for buying in replacements
FEC sampling & weaning preparations

FEC sampling & weaning preparations

  • FEC results clear for the weanlings
  • Store cattle treated for rumen fluke
  • Weaning has started
Weighing update

Weighing update

  • Latest calf weights
  • Finishing cattle weights
  • Management of finishing bullocks


James scanned his heifers and cows on 26th September. Four out of 5 heifers are in calf through use of a synchronisation programme which James was very happy with. 21 cows were bred and 20 of these were scanned in calf, which has resulted in an overall conception rate of 92% this year. James expects to start calving from mid-February next year and to be finished by mid-April which will really tighten up the calving season on his farm.

He is considering buying in some in calf heifers or cows with calves at foot to increase the cow numbers, but will wait until the herd is clear from TB before doing this.

Animal Health

FEC samples were taken from the weanlings and came back clear for stomach and lung worms. They were also taken from the store cattle and the results showed that they were positive for rumen fluke. James has since treated them with Zanil on 10th September and they had previously been dosed with an albendazole drench for stomach and lung worms on 19th August. The FEC samples cost €18 and the fluke samples cost €19 but results are given locally on the same day which is hugely beneficial.

The weanlings received their first vaccination against RSV, Pi3 and mannheimia .They received a booster shot approximately 4 weeks later so that they will have immunity built up at least 2 weeks before the weaning period. They are not given any IBR vaccination based on veterinary advice.

However James joined the National Beef Welfare Scheme and has blood tested 20 females in the herd to establish the IBR status on the farm.

Weaning started the week of 25th September when half of the calves were fitted with anti-suckling nose paddles. They were turned back out with the cows and will return to the yard to have the paddles removed in approximately 1 week. Due to the poor weather conditions, James will house the cows for a period after weaning and plans to turn the calves back out with their normal group. The other half of the calves will then be fitted with their nose paddles and be weaned by the same process.

The second TB test took place on 29th September and James was extremely relived to learn that it was clear. He will need one more clear test 60 days after this before the herd will no longer be restricted.

Weanlings at grass

Figure 1: The weanlings at grass with their cows


The 2023 heifers (7) were weighed on 26th September and averaged 246kg. They gained 0.92kg/day since 12th June and 0.98 kg/day since birth.

The 2023 bullocks (15) were weighed on the same day and averaged 290kg. They gained 1.08kg/day since 12th June and 1.15k/day since birth.

The 10 finishing bullocks were weighed on 30th September. They were an average weight of 612kg and gained 1.32kg/day since they were housed for finishing on 29th July. The target live weight was 620kg for these cattle but they do not have sufficient fat cover just yet so will remain on the farm until they do.  They were dosed with an albendazole drench on 29th July and treated for lice and rumen fluke on 17th August to ensure they would respond well to their finishing diets. They are currently eating 6kg of ration/head/day along with red clover silage. The red clover silage is low in dry matter so James has provided them with a bale of hay to help increase the dry matter content. The cull cow is eating 8kg ration per day.

Finishing bullocks

Figure 2: The heaviest pen of finishing bullocks

Finishing bulocks

Figure 3: The lighter pen of finishing bullocks