Michael McGuigan January/February 2023 update
- Taking advantage of the good weather- getting cattle to grass
- Using the spring rotation planner to stay on target
- Getting grass to grow - Slurry and fertiliser gone out
- Scanning highlights issues with conception rates
- What cows to cull ?
- Management of the calves
Michael started measuring the grass in January and the farm had an average cover of 796kgs/DM/ha meaning that there was sufficient grass on the farm to get stock out if the opportunity arose. Michael was also conscious that there was heavy covers of grass on paddocks that were oversown with clover and these needed to be grazed in late Jan or early February. That chance to turnout stock did come and 15 breeding heifers were turned out in the first week of February.
Initially these were let out to low/medium covers to get adjusted and settled into grazing again. The young calves are out full-time through a creep gate in the slatted shed and by mid February all of the cows were out by day ie 30 cows.
While the cows and calves are now grazing heavier covers the danger is that the farm could run out of grass. The average farm cover should not dip below 500kgs/DM/ha. Michael can easily rehouse the cows to reduce demand or if weather deteriorates.
To stay on track Michael uses the spring rotation planner . The spring is a tool to plan out the first grazing rotation to ensure that grass is grazed early enough to allow time for re-growth for the second rotation and to ensure grass does not run out before the second rotation starts.
It is purely based on target areas and dates. Once you know the date you are letting out stock and the targets, you know how much land you have to graze per day, week and month. The following targets are for a dry farm such as the Michaels
- 30% of your farm grazed by the 1st March
- 60% of your farm grazed by Mid- March
- 100% of your farm grazed by the first week of April
The planner below tells Michael the amount of ground they need to graze per week in order to meet those targets. The first areas to be grazed will be grazing ground before moving onto the silage ground . This gives the first grazing areas at least 70 days to recover before being grazed again at the start of April ie start of the second rotation.
The planner tells Michael that he is ahead of target 53% grazed instead of 37% ( a week ahead of schedule) so he will need to slow down and rehouse the cows for a week. Otherwise the farm could run short of grass.
To get the farm growing, slurry has been applied and 20 units of Protected Urea /acre has been blanket spread. Conditions were ideal for getting some slurry and fertiliser out , soil temperatures were over 8 degrees, grass was growing and ground conditions were excellent.
Breeding started on Dec 15th and AI is been used for the first round and a LM bull for repeats. 2 vasectomised FR bulls are been used for heat detection plus cows can be observed with the calving cameras.
Michael’s chart highlights when the cows calved and what bulls he is using. Eg Lapon, Hamlet, Earp, Ruben etc
Despite a big effort to service the cows using AI – scanning has highlighted a conception rate of only 62% repeat on first serve which Michael is disappointed with.
- Cows in excellent condition, 3 to 3.75
- 1 kg of beef nuts given through breeding period
- Pre-calver licks given
- Calves put out to grass each day to break the bond
- Average 62 day post calving serve
- Iodine pour-on given around calving time
- Diet kept the same through breeding period
- Cows on slats with comfort mats
- Pre scanning lighlighted no issues
Bloods taken by the vet have highlighted low levels of Copper and a multimin injection has been given as a result.
Michael intends to cull 7 cows this year for the following reasons and these are highlighted on a chart.
- Poor calving interval
- Late calving in the season
- Poor quality calf
All of the calves have been vaccinated for IBR and also given a shot of Bovipast. The calves have access to grass by day trough a creep gate in the back of the slatted pens. In February both cows and calves were at grass.
The calves will continue to forward graze throughout the grazing season giving them the choice of the best quality grass. They are currently getting 1kgs of meal/day.