Proinnsias Creedon May Update
Important month for managing grass
- Measure grass weekly
- Select paddocks for silage
- Control docks appropriately in heavily infested fields
Winter and finishing performance
- Continue to draft finishing cattle for slaughter as they come fit
- Use a combination of animal live weight and handling them for fat cover to assess if they are fit for slaughter
- Review winter performance so that any issues can be corrected before next winter
Health of dairyX calves
- Identify health burdens on calves from this spring
- Plan a vaccination programme for them for next spring to prevent similar issues
- Turn calves out to grass pre-weaning where possible
The latest grass cover was completed on 2nd May. There was a farm cover of 822 kg DM/ha, with a growth rate of 54 kg DM/ha since 18th April and a demand of 24 kg DM/ha, with 34 days of grass ahead.
As grass growth has been high again over the last 2 weeks, another grass cover will be completed on the farm and a final decision will be made on paddocks to be taken out for silage. There are 28 x older cattle and 37 x 2021 born cattle grazing on the farm.
Silage cutting is planned for the end of May on the farm.
There are 18 paddocks suitable for over sowing white clover on the farm. However Proinnsias is lower stocked this year than most years and it would be a challenge to graze the paddocks at lower covers. He has decided to focus on controlling docks on the farm this year, particularly in these paddocks, so that they may be suitable for over sowing clover next year if he wishes. A strong spray product will be used to control docks, and it will be applied at a time when the dock plant is about 8-10” high or across. Ideally the plants will have a green health leaf and plenty of water will be used (200-400 litres/ha). It will be important to check the grazing interval for the spray product, or the cutting interval if silage is to be made on the paddocks.
The finishing heifers (23) were weighed on 14th April. They averaged 0.6 kg/day since their previous weighing on 9th January. It is expected that this will increase as heifers are drafted for slaughter.
The lighter heifers (27) averaged 0.51 kg/day since their previous weighing on 28th December until 15th April.
The 2021 born heifers (30) gained 0.34 kg/day between 29th December and 15th April which was below the target of 0.6 kg/day. Lying space, feeding space and shed ventilation caused below target performance in these animals but this is expected to be rectified next winter with the addition of a new shed on the farm.
Eight heifers were slaughtered on 21st April. They graded O=4- on average at 291 kg carcass weight and made €1497 at 24.7 months of age. The heifers were approximately 580kg when they were drafted for slaughter, resulting in a kill out percentage of 50%. It is estimated that the remaining finishing heifers will be slaughtered by mid-June.
More heifers are expected to be fit for the factory for sale in mid-May.
The calves had been vaccinated against RSV and Pi3 but began coughing last month. On veterinary advice, all calves were all treated with a CTC powder for 3 to 5 days (prescription only antibiotic) which treats against respiratory infection caused by Mannhaemia haemolytica which worked well. For next year the RSV and Pi3 vaccine could be given within 24 hours of arrival on to the farm, and an IBR vaccine could also be given to reduce the risk of respiratory disease.
They will be faecal sampled after 8 weeks grazing in late June to check for a parasite burden. The oldest group have been out by day during weaning and housed if poor weather conditions were forecasted over the last week. All calves must be eating over 1kg ration/head/day before they are weaned and the calves at grass are continuing to get 1kg/head/day at grass. The next batch of calves could be let out to grass by day for a few weeks before weaning to give them sufficient time for their stomachs to adjust to a grass diet.