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John Pringle July/August Update 2023

Planning for the autumn

Planning for the autumn

  • Plan your vaccinations
  • Plan your pre housing dose
  • Talk to your vet
Building grass covers

Building grass covers

  • Closing date for chemical fertiliser 14th September
  • The earlier you apply the better response you will get
  • Apply lime where its required
Finishing up the breeding season

Finishing up the breeding season

  • Pull the bull
  • Scan your cows and cull any empties ASAP
  • Do you need a new bull?

Animal Health

It seems early, but on suckler farms attention should be turning in September to transitioning cattle to the shed, especially with weanlings.  On John’s farm weanlings are vaccinated for IBR, RSV, Pi3 and Mannheimia Haemolytica and dosed for lungworm and stomach worms; there is no fluke on the farm.


The IBR for all intents and purposes is simple, it is a live vaccine given into the muscle, it’s a one shot programme and it gives six months protection. The onset of immunity takes two weeks, therefore it has to be given at least 2 weeks before a stress period.

The protection is against RSV, Pi3 and Mannheimia Haemolytica, is a two shot programme, it has to be given four weeks apart and the onset of immunity take two weeks after the second shot, making the lead in time much longer.

For John he will start on the 11th of September or thereabouts, give the first shot, the second shot has to be given 4 weeks later, so the 9th of October, and the onset of immunity takes two weeks so they weanling will only have full immunity on the 23rd of October. The bulls will be housed at this time.

The IBR will be given with the second shot on the 9th of October and will cover the weanlings until 9th of April.


John is lucky he has no fluke on his farm, it’s a high dry farm with no watercourses and no wet areas. He always checks the livers on his Beef Health Check reports from the factory, and also has all ewes or lambs slaughtered check, just in case. This makes dosing at housing much simpler.

There is no coughing in the calves at the minute and they look clean, so John is getting a faecal egg sample done this week, last week in August. If he has worms he will does.

Pre - housing dose

As a norm, the protocol is to give an Ivermectin injection when giving the second vaccination on the 9th of October, this will kill any worms present. It also has a persistency that the white and yellow drenches do not have.  It will control stomach worms for 2-3 weeks and lungworm for 4 weeks. The idea is to “clean out the lungs” and allow them to heal from any damage in preparation for housing. If given on the 9th of October, you have up until the 30th of October to house and they should still be protected.

At housing they will have to be dosed for stomach worms, so another Ivermectin product is used. He can’t use a Levacide as it won’t control inhibited O. ostertagi – a stomach worm. The ivermectin will also control both mange mites and sucking lice. They will get a second lice treatment 4 weeks after housing to deal with biting lice.


Cows and calves

Figure 1: Cows and calves at grass

Cow and calf pair

Figure 2: Cow and calf pair

Calves on the farm

Figure 3: More calves on the farm


For the first time in five years, I have plenty of grass in the back end of the year. On my last report I only had one field of grass above 1000kg DM/ha.

Last round of fertiliser


I have gone on 40% of the farm last week (21st of August) with 15 units of Nitrogen, and I will cover the rest in the next week. Ground conditions are good, temperatures are warm and moist and grass is really growing. The later you leave it the less value you will get for your nitrogen.


I applied lime to the front half of the farm last year as per my soil sample results, I can see a good response from it, especially in the clover. Now the conditions are good I will look at my soil samples and  apply to the rest of the farm.

Red Clover

The red clover has really come on, I thought I was going to have to plough it up earlier in the year. I sowed it at the end of May - who would have thought June would bring such dry conditions! Mid- June I had a partial strike and it wasn’t until the rain in the late June that it took off.

I did go back in and over sow with more red clover after the rain. I gave it 1.5 – 2 bags of 10-10-20 at sowing and after the first cut on the 11th of August, I applied 1,500 gallons of slurry per acre. The plan is to gut again mid-September.

As red clover doesn’t like to have a heavy cover over the winter, I will run the hoggets’ over it quickly in late November and take off the heavy cover. Next spring it will get 2,500 gals of slurry per acre and I will hopefully get a first cut in early May.

Red clover

Figure 4: Red clover


I have 4 acres of swedes sown, it got dung applied and ploughed in. At sowing I applied 2.5 bags of 10-10-20 per acre. I sprayed them with Boron last week and they are a great crop. The bulbs are just beginning to fill now. I plan on running the ewes on them from the Mid November and should get until January with the 38 bales of silage. This allows me to save the grass for them after lambing in March.


Figure 5: Swedes growing on the farm


Stock bull

Figure 6: New LM stock bull

The breeding season has gone well-ish. I started on the 10th of May and finished in late July. Of the 13 heifers served, 8 held in calf and I am happy with that. I will have the same number of culls, so my breeding herd will stay the same.

There is also a new kid in town, I bought a new Limousin bull, - Galbally Timmy 1788. He will breed my next generation of replacements and I think he is an ideal match for the cows I have on farm.

He is €193 on replacement and €154 on terminal.

Eurostar indexes for new bull

Figure 7: Eurostar indexes for new bull

He is very easy calving on the cows and good on heifers <8%, but the reliability is low, I will only use him on well grown heifers in the first year – to be safe.

Calving difficulty of new bull

Figure 8: Calving difficulty of new bull

But I always look at the bottom lines, he is very docile, this can be seen already, no issues putting into or getting him out of the trailer. He is in a few in calf heifers and no issues.

He is good on carcass at 28.9kg, I don’t want to breed bigger heifers and high on confirmation, which will breed a bit of power into my cows, which are a little plainer, with a lot of Simmental breeding.  His Milk is good at + 6.5kgs. I know he is adding 1.7days on the calving interval, but I am okay on calving interval at 368 days, I will just have to keep management top notch.

Eurostar indexes for new bull

Figure 9: Eurostar details of new bull

The cull cows will be weaned and put in with the heifers not in calf and started on meal, I want them gone as soon as possible. This will reduce the demand for silage over the winter and give me more space in the sheds, I am tight on housing.

New bull with heifers

Figure 10: New bull with heifers