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Michael McGuigan July/August 2023



  • With the second cut silage made 100% of the fodder requirement now in the yard
  • Mid-term review of the 2023 grassland season
  • Forage Rape will be sown by August 1st


  • Weanlings are castrated and weighed in July
  • Meal feeding to begin now
  • Forward grazing and weaning of weanlings
Animal Health

Animal Health

  • Replacement heifers are faecal sampled
  • Some coughing evident – will sample immediately


The second cut silage was made on July 12th and there is now 296 bales in the yard. This is now enough fodder for next winter for 5 months. There is also another 2ha which will be too strong to graze and this will be baled in the first week of August which will give a surplus of fodder.

Michael applied 1.5 bags of 18.6.12 /acre to the silage ground to replenish the P and K off-takes .

While Michael is measuring grass and using Pasturebase which helps him make the correct management decisions around grass. There is  other useful information available for Michael. He can generate a farm summary of any calender year and also review the current year.

Picture 1: 9 days post silage cutting on July 12th

Picture 2: 2023 mid-year review

The above table is the farm summary from January to July 2023. There main points worth nothing are;

  • Michael has 25 measures completed to date which is excellent
  • 7.1tons DM/ha of grass has been grown to date – compared to 6.7ton/DM/ha for the same period last year. Michael estimates that he will grow 12ton/DM/ha in 2023 !
  • The average pre-grazing yield is 1142kgs . This tells us that the covers the cattle are grazing are low to date as a result of a difficult spring . The target here is 1200-1400kgs/DM/ha
  • Average growth is 43kgs/DM/ha/day and the average demand from the herd is 37kgs/DM/ha/ day so the farm is growing the right amount for the stocking rate of the farm.

 Picture 3: Farm summary January to July 2023

  • To date Michael has applied 84kgs of Nitrogen per ha to grow the 7.1 tons of grass this year. ie 67units/N/acre


The grass wedge on July 19th highlights that growth is matching demand and there are 15 days  of grass ahead. The target for this time of year would be 16. By walking the farm weekly and taking correction action like taking out heavier paddocks, the grass wedge is where he wants it to be. The average farm cover is 874kgs/DM/ha – higher than Michael would like at the moment.

Forage Rape

Michael had intended to sow red clover this year but with a very wet April , ground conditions were poor so the opportunity was missed. The plan instead , is to sow the red clover in 2024 and sow forage rape in the field (5 acres) now . The 30 weanlings will graze the rape from November until February. The red clover will then be sown in April 2024. The forage rape will help with the soil structure and should be easily tilled in April nest year.

The ground has been sprayed off and the forage rape will be sown by the end of July. 92 bales of silage will be placed up the centre of the field post sowing.

As mentioned earlier , Michael also won an innovation award for the creep gate designed to allow calves graze ahead of the cows.  There are a number of advantages ;

  • Calves get priority access to the best, most palatable grass without competition from the cows
  • Any meal feeding can be fed in a controlled manner using troughs ie no feed for a creep feeder
  • The cows are restricted to clean out the paddock while the calf continues to get the best grass ahead
  • It help breaks the maternal bond as cows and calves becomes accustomed to separation.

Picture 4: Innovation winner, creep gate



Michael has already castrated the male calves in early July well in advance of weaning and he wants to separate these stressful events for the calf.

Michael started giving the weanlings 1 kg of meal at the end of July. In mid August , he will wean the calves . Last year Michael, changed the weaning process making it a less stressful event for mother, calf and for himself. He purchased nose pads for the calves and found them very beneficial.   There are 3 simple steps

STEP 1; Michael puts cows and calves into the shed for 24 hours- the calves are separated from their mothers. They are re-united after 24hrs and he lets the calves have a final suck .

STEP 2 – The nose flaps are  inserted . Calves wear a lightweight plastic, non-invasive nose-flap, which prevents them from nursing but allows the calves to graze and have full social and physical contact with their mother. This helps prepare both cows and calves for life after weaning by effectively reducing the bond between mother and young!

STEP 3– The  nose flaps  are removed AFTER  7 DAYS. After calves have worn the anti-sucking device for a few (4-7) days, he  removes  the nose-flaps and separates the  cows and calves as usual without all the usual uproar!  Michael found that there was no stress last year and will repeat the practice again.  The cows will be restricted to cleaning out paddocks after the weanlings in a leader follower system.

Picture 5: Calves ahead of the cows 

Picture 6: Lapon calf; ADG 1.39kg

Animal Health

The replacement heifers were dung sampled and there is no evidence of lung or stomach worms .

Some of the calves are coughing. Michael will faecal sample and dose accordingly as soon as possible.