Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Sam Pierce January Update

Considerations for the month

Considerations for the month

  • Vaccinate cows
  • Get calving pens cleaned and disinfected
  • Faecal samples young stock
  • Clostridal booster is due before grazing
Planning is key

Planning is key

  • Get soil samples taken
  • Apply lime if required
  • Talk to your merchant and order your fertiliser
Ensure diets are balanced

Ensure diets are balanced

  • Test your silage
  • Balance your diets
  • Weigh animals to see their performance

Animal Health

Cows will be calving from Mid-February, so they need to be vaccinated for IBR and Rota & Corona. All cows are vaccinated with an IBR live vaccine into the muscle. This is done a month before calving to allow the onset of immunity in the cow. Vaccination will reduce the shedding of the virus when the cow comes under stress, but it also allows passive immunity to pass through the milk to the calves. Of course, you must ensure that the calves get plenty of milk.

While the IBR give six months immunity, the Rota and Corona vaccine is a little trickier. It has to be give between three and twelve weeks of calving.  The first 20 cows are not vaccinated as the cows and their calves go straight to grass, so there is less likelihood of them picking anything up. As viruses build in the shed the vaccination will kick in.

There is crypto on the farm, which has no vaccination, so Sam wants to ensure that he has covered off as many viruses etc. as he can. The sheds calving pens are being cleaned, disinfected and will be well bedded for each animal.  Halicur will be used to treat the crypto. 

The dairy calves will be going out first, hopefully in mid-February so they are due to get their clostridal booster in the next few days.

Faecal samples have been taken from all groups of stock to see did the housing dose work.

Soil Fertility

Sam has soil samples taken but the results are not back yet. Lime has been applied over the last number of years, there is a lot of clover on the farm. For clover to thrive a pH of greater that 6.5 is required. You also require good soil index’s for Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (k).

Sam has made enquiries about fertiliser, some merchants are saying supply maybe tight. Sam wants to have the fertiliser for the first two round in the yard, and the silage fertiliser. For the first round he has Urea bought and is looking for protected urea. Urea at €950 is per €1 per unit of Nitrogen, while protected urea at €1000 is €1.09per unit of N, while can is very expensive at €750 per tonne and €1.39 per unit.

N Type

Urea (46% N)

Protected Urea (46% N)

Can (27% N)

Cost per tonne




Cost per unit of N




The protected urea is the best value here as it in only 9 cents dearer than the urea, but it is protected, so less likely to be lost.

The plan is to get 20 units of Nitrogen out in early February as soon as ground conditions allow.

  • Soil temperatures greater than 6oc and rising
  • Ground is easily travelled, if it waterlogged the N will be lost
  • There is no rain forecast for 2-3 days
  • The aim will be to go to the driest fields, the reseeds and the fields with the best soil fertility

Some slurry will go out, but most of it will be saved for the silage ground where it is needed.

The second round will be a bag and a half of 18-6-12. This maybe the only P spread this year on the grazing ground, depending on the soil sample results.

Animal Nutrition

All cattle were weighed on coming into the shed and targets set. To meet these targets, animals need to be getting enough energy and protein in the diet. As silage makes up most of that diet, Sam has tested all his silages.

Cut ID




Crude Protein

Fim Intake

1st cut






second cut






clover bales






 As can be seen all Sam silages are excellent. For the weanlings the homebred heifers and the dairy calves will get the high protein silage and 15kg of home mixed ration.

The bulls destined to be finished u16 months will get 3kgs of ration with the second cut silage. The aim is for the heifers and dairy bred calve to be gaining 0.6kg/hd/day, while the bulls should be gaining 1.3kgs at least for the first two months. They need to be 500kgs at a year of age.

The suckler cows are on a 72dmd silage so it is being buffered with straw