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Shane Keaveny January/February



  • A plan to get weanlings to grass in early February
  • Making the best use of slurry – it is a valuable resource
  • Spring Fertiliser Plan
Animal Health

Animal Health

  • Preparation for calving
  • Post calving care



  • Bulls building to an ad-lib diet




While Shane’s farm could be described as ‘heavy’ in nature- there are dry sections . Shane plans to take advantage of the recent dry weather  by letting out some  weanling heifers (17) out  to grass in the second week of February. There are many advantages in getting some stock out early;

  • Grass is a cheaper feed than silage and meal
  • Spring grass is nutritious and high in protein and animals can achieve approximately 1kg/LW/day  - better animal performance
  • Less Labour- the animals can feed themselves
  • Saves on silage- less expensive silage to be made in 2023
  • Spring grass is very palatable – grazing out swards will set the farm up to grow more high quality grass for the remainder of the year

There are 2 big fears farmers have when it comes to letting out stock in early Spring

  • Managing stock in wet weather , paoching land and possibly having to re- house
  • Running out of grass – grazing In February and March will leave the farm bare for April

To get over the first concern , Shane has a plan;

  • Ground conditions and weather conditions have to be good before they are let out
  • Stock are released early on a dry day onto paddocks with light covers of grass ie 600-750kgs/DM/ha
  • Avoid letting stock out to heavy covers of grass- They will only walk the grass into the ground. These covers can be grazed when the stock are settled and adjusted to grazing.
  • In the event of wet weather , the stock will be moved on quickly to another paddock
  • He is prepared to re-house if necessary – the heifers will be on paddocks near the shed and can be easily rehoused .

Shane  has completed “ Spring Rotation Planner” . This is a tool  used by farmers to plan out their first grazing rotation. A plan will 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 we start the second rotation.

 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

  • 30% of your farm grazed by the 1st of March
  • 60% of your farm grazed by St. Patrick’s Day
  • 100% of your farm grazed by 1st - 10th of April

Turnout to lighter covers that need grazing 


Fertiliser & Slurry

Before Shane  plans to apply either slurry or fertiliser – there are 4 main conditions he will met before any applications;

  • Soil temperature is consistently above 5.5 degrees Celsius
  • The tractor and spreader will not damage fields
  • The forecast is for dry conditions for 7 to 10 days
  • Grass is growing at +10 Kg/Dm/ha/day – check your area on PastureBase Ireland

Slurry is a valuable resource each 1000 gals is worth at least €50 so it will be spread using Less on the ground that needs it the most ie silage areas. There is  sufficient storage  for another 2 -3 weeks and slurry will then be spread  towards the  end of February when there will be better growing conditions. Silage ground that the heifers will have grazed will be targeted at 3000gals/acre. This will supply sufficient P & K to grow the silage crop.The only source of N,P & K will be in the form of slurry for February. The first round of chemical fertiliser will be in mid-late March.

Animal Health

With calving due to start on February 7th,  Shane  has been busy preparing for the calving season. All calving pens have been power-washed, disinfected and are well bedded with straw. In addition , Shane has upgraded his camera system to 4 cameras in total. There are  now no blind spots and all of the 5 bays are now in view from his iphone.

Last year, Shane was tight on calving and isolation pens so this year he has re-modelled a loose shed into additional post calving pens. To ensure he is fully prepared Shane  will carry out a pre calving check. The calving equipment is all working including calving gates, calving cameras, calving jack etc. Ensure you have calving ropes, gloves, stomach tube, iodine etc. To help we have a very useful checklist here https://www.teagasc.ie/animals/beef/demonstration-farms/future-beef-programme/technical-notes-for-suckler-farmers/calving-checklist/


The bulls are on 8kgs of meal plus silage and the ration will be increased every two weeks until they are on ad-lib. Currently they are consuming 1.5 round bales of silage with the 8kgs of meal. The bulls are straw bedded with access to plenty of water.

The bulls were weighed on Jan 3rd and the daily liveweight gain has increased from 0.76kgs to 0.92kgs. The average bull weight on Jan 3rd was 410kgs.