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John Barry July/August Update

Reviewing herd health plan

Reviewing herd health plan

  • Consider any health issues that arose last year such as pneumonia or scour outbreaks
  • Take action to prevent a reoccurrence of the same issues through vaccinations or ventilation improvements
  • Discuss dosing strategy with your advisor
Meeting summer grass targets

Meeting summer grass targets

  • Continue to measure grass weekly
  • Target farm cover of 700-800 kg DM/ha
  • Target 16-18 days ahead
Weighing at grass

Weighing at grass

  • Weigh young cattle to see their weight gain at grass
  • 2021 born cattle should be gaining 1kg/day at grass
  • 2022 born cattle should be gaining over 1.1 kg/day at grass (>1.3kg/day for bulls, >1.2kg/day for bullocks, >1.1kg/day for heifers)

Animal Health

John reviewed his herd health plan for the year and will be focusing on a few priorities for the next 12 months. He had an outbreak of pneumonia in the autumn calves last winter so will be ensuring to give them their second RSV/Pi3/Mannheimia vaccine this year. He will also be assessing the ventilation in his sheds to ensure there is adequate air inlets and outlets to ensure that stale air is cleared to prevent disease.

The cows on the farm were blood tested to identify their mineral status a few years ago and it showed that they were low in copper, selenium and iodine. As a result of this, John supplements them with a liquid form of minerals through the water daily. Magnesium is also included to prevent grass tetany during risk periods.

The timing of the lepto vaccines for the spring calving cows will be changed to at least 4 weeks pre-calving to ensure that they have adequate protection before breeding, instead of being given during the breeding season. John vaccinates his cows against IBR to ensure that the calves are protected against it. Although the products vary, the onset of immunity will be 21 days after vaccination and publications show that peak immunity occurs after 35-100 days. The higher the level of antibodies in the blood of the cow means that they will also be high in the colostrum. The immunity passed to the calves may last until they are 5-6 months old, but if there is a severe outbreak on the farm calves can be vaccinated from 3 months of age. Based on this information, John can give the IBR vaccinations to groups of cows 5-10 weeks pre-calving, which also means vaccinating them in different bunches to ensure that they are all protected. As John scans his cows and records AI and serve dates from the bull, it allows him to easily select cows based on expected calving date. 


John measured grass on the farm on 11th July. He had a farm cover of 569 kg DM/ha, with a growth rate of 51 kg DM/ha and a demand of 45 kg DM/ha with 13 days ahead. Although the farm cover is still below the target of 700-800 kg DM/ha and the days ahead target of 16 to 18 days, but grass growth has improved since the previous farm visit.

Protected urea was spread at a rate of 20 units per acre of 27th of June so this will help to maintain grass growth rates. The autumn calving cows are all weaned so their grass allocation will be reduced to prevent them from putting on too much weight before calving and they are cleaning out paddocks after the younger stock.

The farm has grown 4.63 t DM/ha on average this year. This ranges from low input grassland at 1 to 2 t DM/ha to paddocks that have yielded over 7t DM/ha.

One of the grass fields were reseeded on 6th June but has had a poor strike. The headland areas of the field have struck okay but a higher, hilly part of the field has had no strike of new grass seed. A few weed grasses and old weeds are starting to appear but it overall quite bare. The field was burnt off before seeding and was not ploughed or disc harrowed before sowing. It is suspected that the field needs rain so John will give it a few weeks to see if it improves, but it is peace of mind to know that it hasn’t struck and then died off or he would have no option but to reseed it all again.


Some of the 2021 autumn heifers (13/18) were weighed on 8th July. Their average birth date is 31st October 2021 and they averaged 332kg, having gained 1.03kg/day since 8th April.

The 2021 autumn bulls (15) were also weighed and averaged 334kg and gained 1.05 kg since April. Their average birth date is 2nd November 2021.

Four 2021 later born spring bullocks averaged 421kg, having gained 0.95 kg/day since April.

The 2021 spring born heifers (21) were an average weight of 451kg and gained 0.97kg/day at grass since April.

The 2020 autumn born heifers (5) averaged 512kg and gained 0.81kg/day since April. The spring born heifers (2) from 2020 averaged 580kg having gained 0.82kg/day at grass.