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Michael & Niall Biggins November/December update

Animal Health

Animal Health

  • Faecal Sample results
  • Good “winter care “ protocol



  • Winter Housing Plan


Animal Nutrition

Animal Nutrition

  • Mineral analysis of silage
  • Silage sample results

Animal Health

The faecal results highlighted a low positive for rumen fluke but on veterinary advice the levels did not warrant any treatment. Also there was no physical signs of rumen fluke in the cattle. However, there is some evidence of worms therefore a worm dose was given in mid December.

All of the stock are clipped and treated for lice. Clipping tails and backs keep the stock cleaner and they don’t tend to sweat in mild weather.


To ensure optimum animal performance over the winter period the stock are penned as follows

  • Mature Spring calving cows
  • Cows that calved for the first time in 2022
  • In calf heifers calving at 2 years of age
  • Weanling heifers
  • Remaining unsold Weanlings males

The mature cows get second scut ilage while the 1st calvers plus the weanlings get the best  first cut silage. The in –calf heifers are in very good body condition and the aim is to have this group fit not fat at calving.  Generally 1 bale of silage is fed to 14 cows every 2 days to ensure that they don’t get overfat.

The weanlings are supplemented with 1.5kgs of meal/head/day.

All of the male weanlings with the exception of 8 have been sold at home.


Animal Nutrition


While the main macro minerals are normal , the mineral analysis report highlighted a high level of a copper antagonist , Sulphur. This means that the mineral purchased for the cows will need to contain protected copper to ensure proper supplementation .

Macro Minerals

Magnesium (Mg):  Magnesium plays a crucial role in mobilising calcium from bones and increasing gut absorption, to reduce milk fever. Low levels of magnesium can also cause slow calving. Magnesium is not stored in the body, so it is very important it be fed right up to calving.

After calving Mg supplementation is required especially on lush spring or autumn grass to prevent grass tetany.  

Phosphorous (P): Makes up approx. 30% of total minerals in the body. A phosphorous deficiency can severly affect reproduction, causing silent heats, irregular oestrus and low conception rates. Low phosphorous is also associated with pica – i.e. eating stones etc.  

Sodium (Na):  Aids in nutrient transfer, waste removal, involved in muscle and heart contraction, rumen and blood pH. Deficiency signs are urine licking, reduced male fertility, lower milk production and depraved eating behaviour.

Calcium (Ca):   Calcium maintains normal muscle function and a deficiency can cause difficult calving’s and retained placenta. Obviously once a cow is lactating the requirement for calcium increases dramatically, it is a deficiency in calcium that cause milk fever.  A cow is unable to physically consume her calcium requirement, she has to mobilise it from her own bones. In order for her to be able to do this post calving, she has to start pre calving. Magnesium aids in this process and this is why minerals high in magnesium are fed pre calving. If calcium is fed pre calving, it meets her pre-calving requirement and she won’t have started the process of mobilising calcium from her bones and this will lead to a deficiency after calving, therefore - Do not feed calcium pre calving.

Trace elements

Copper (Cu): Deficiency can lead to small weak calves, scours and decreased milk. In weanlings, it can cause poor growth rates.

Selenium (Se): One of the few elements that can pass through the placenta from the cow to the calf. It is important as a deficiency can cause muscular dystrophy (weakening and wasting of muscle). Some areas are high in Se, so you should test your silage to ensure you do not cause a toxicity. A deficiency can also cause an issue with retained placentas.

Iodine (I): Deficiency can cause small weak calves, dead or hairless calves, or calves that do not want to suck. The animal will have low immunity. It can also lead to poor reproductive performance. It is also not stored in the body and needs to be fed right up to calving.

Cobalt (Co): Involved in the synthesis of B12 by the rumen, deficiencies more often seen in sheep. Can cause a rough coat, poor appetite and anaemia.

Manganese (Mn): A deficiency can affect growth, bone formation and the nervous system leading to poor growth, reproduction and bowing of the joints.

Zinc (Zn): Plays a role in the immune system and repair of damaged tissues. while it is also involved in the synthesis and metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, teat keratin formation. A deficiency can lead to poor skin, mastitis, slow healing of wounds, bad hoofs and stiff joints. It can also lead to lower conception rates.