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James Skehan September/October Update

Weanling health

Weanling health

  • Take FEC samples from younger cattle this month
  • Plan vaccinations to ensure weanlings have protection before weaning/castration/housing
  • This is a good month to start creep feeding calves before weaning
Grass targets for September

Grass targets for September

  • Target a farm cover >1000kg DM/ha
  • Slow cattle down by providing silage at grass to help build covers
  • Target 25-30 days of grass ahead this month
Setting autumn targets

Setting autumn targets

  • Continue weighing cattle regularly
  • Have a target selling weight if selling stores, James’s target is >500kg
  • Check local mart prices if selling live to determine what your cattle are worth

Animal Health

The stock bull on the farm was lame on the last visit and James separated him from the bullocks. He has since recovered well.

The cows were vaccinated against leptospirosis on 8th September.

FEC samples were taken from the calves. They were negative for lung worms, stomach worms, tape worms and low positive for coccidia, meaning they don’t need any dosing at present.

The FEC samples from the cows for the BEEP scheme showed high levels of rumen fluke and low levels of liver fluke. The cows were visually assessed and ones that are on the thin side or are dirty around the rear end can be selectively dosed for rumen fluke.

The calves will be getting their vaccination to protect them against RSV, Pi3 and Mannheimia. They will get a single shot, then a booster shot 4 weeks later and can then be castrated 2 weeks later. The castrated calves could then be weaned 2 weeks after this. James has a creep feeder on the farm and will leave it out with the calves before the end of the month.


The target farm covers for September is >1000 kg DM/ha and 25-30 days ahead. Growth is slowing down on James’s farm which traditionally happens at this time of the year and his farm cover varies between 326 to 434 kg DM/ha on his home farm and out farm. The days ahead are ranging between 11-18 days ahead.

Therefore he is taking steps to slow down the rotation and to allow covers to build. The creep feeder will go in with the cows and calves before the end of the month to reduce the calf demand for grass and to help them along before weaning. James has been fortunate to make more feed than what his cattle will require over winter and will feed out some of these bales to the cows/calves and yearlings so that they can spend an extra 1-2 days per paddock. This will give the paddocks ahead more time to recover and to build covers on them for the autumn to try and extend the grazing season.




Third cut silage was made in Clonboy on 13th September which yielded 2.7 t DM/ha.

James is also setting up his autumn grazing plan. Grassland management really starts in the autumn by having a planned grazing system that sets your paddocks up for the spring. Advantages of having an autumn closing plan are:

  • It’s free.
  • Shorter housing period.
  • Healthier stock.
  • It will allow you to turn out cattle with confidence in the spring.
  • Spring grass is a better feed than silage.
  • It gets young cattle thriving early in the spring.
  • It gets cows on a rising plain of nutrition after calving in the spring back in calf easier.

The principles of this for James’s farm are:

  • To allocate a portion of the farm for grazing each day.
  • Start closing paddocks from the 1st October onwards (1-2 weeks later in drier areas).
  • Aim to have 60% farm closed by the end of October (1-2 weeks later in drier areas). The paddocks grazed by this date will have an opportunity to grow grass before growth rates decline in November.
  • Leave the grazing platform with an “adequate grass cover” when the cows are housed.

It will be important to graze paddocks to 3.5-4 cm to encourage winter tillering of the grass plant and not to re-graze fields that have been closed. If ground conditions deteriorate for James, he can house heavier cattle first and will be able to house some of these groups if he is ahead of the weekly target which can be monitored on PastureBase.

Further information on this is available at https://www.teagasc.ie/crops/grassland/grass10/grazing-management/autumn-grazing-management/


James’s home-bred bullocks and the bought in bullocks were weighed on 7th September. The weighing details are outlined below.

6 LMX bullocks were sold on 9th September. They averaged 547kg and made €2.76/kg, hitting an average price of €1508.89/head. James plans to sell another load on Friday week as he had 9 bullocks over his target weight of 500kg.

Stock GroupNo. CattleWeighing Date

Average Weight 


ADG Since Last Weighing
2021 Home Bred Bullocks 8 17/09/2022 488

0.91 kg/day

(Since 06/08/22)

2021 Purchased Bullocks 18 17/09/2022 458

0.97 kg/day

(Since 06/08/22)