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Shane Keaveny November December update

Animal Performance

Animal Performance

  •  Weighing highlights a drop slight drop in winter performance


Animal Nutrition

Animal Nutrition


  • Mineral & Silage analysis Results



Animal Performance

With all the stock now settled into their winter regime –its all about feeding and monitoring performance in December. The bulls were weighed again on the 23rd of November and they averaged a gain of  just  0.76kgs per day since their last weighing on Nov 1st.  While they ADG since birth is quiet good at 1.23kgs/day- the performance at the start of the winter period needs to be better to target finishing at u16months with a 400kg carcase.

The plan is to have all the bulls finished at u16 months of age so they need to be gaining at least 1 kg plus per day in the period before Christmas. Luckily, the weighing identified the problem quickly  and  another 1  kg of meal/head/day was introduced.  . So they are now getting a total of 3kgs of meal/head/day plus high quality ad-lib silage. The extra kg of meal is the finishing ration- a high energy, 14% protein  maize ration . The finishing ration is introduced gradually as it takes a while for the bulls to get used of it. Until this year , the ration was always  in a “nut”  form but this year it will cost over €20 ton extra to get the ration as a nut- the coarse form is fed.  The bulls will be weighed again after Christmas.

The heifers were weighed on the 16th of November and they averaged 312kgs . They gained 0.87kgs/day while out on grass in late October. They are now housed and getting top quality silage and 1 kgs  of meal/head/day.


Animal Nutrition

Both the mineral analysis of the silage fed to the cows and the normal silage sample results have come back as follows;

The mineral analysis has highlighted low levels of some of the macro minerals such as Calcium and Phosphorous. Also it has highlighted that there are low levels of copper antagonists such as Sulphur, Iron and Molybdenum. If these were high, copper could be locked and the mineral fed would need to contain protected copper.

Macro Minerals

Magnesium (Mg):  Magnesium plays a crucial role in mobilising calcium from bones and increasing gut absorption, to reduce milk fever. Low levels of magnesium can also cause slow calving. Magnesium is not stored in the body, so it is very important it be fed right up to calving.

After calving Mg supplementation is required especially on lush spring or autumn grass to prevent grass tetany.  

Phosphorous (P): Makes up approx. 30% of total minerals in the body. A phosphorous deficiency can severly affect reproduction, causing silent heats, irregular oestrus and low conception rates. Low phosphorous is also associated with pica – i.e. eating stones etc.  

Sodium (Na):  Aids in nutrient transfer, waste removal, involved in muscle and heart contraction, rumen and blood pH. Deficiency signs are urine licking, reduced male fertility, lower milk production and depraved eating behaviour.

Calcium (Ca):   Calcium maintains normal muscle function and a deficiency can cause difficult calving’s and retained placenta. Obviously once a cow is lactating the requirement for calcium increases dramatically, it is a deficiency in calcium that cause milk fever.  A cow is unable to physically consume her calcium requirement, she has to mobilise it from her own bones. In order for her to be able to do this post calving, she has to start pre calving. Magnesium aids in this process and this is why minerals high in magnesium are fed pre calving. If calcium is fed pre calving, it meets her pre-calving requirement and she won’t have started the process of mobilising calcium from her bones and this will lead to a deficiency after calving, therefore - Do not feed calcium pre calving.

Trace elements

Copper (Cu): Deficiency can lead to small weak calves, scours and decreased milk. In weanlings, it can cause poor growth rates.

Selenium (Se): One of the few elements that can pass through the placenta from the cow to the calf. It is important as a deficiency can cause muscular dystrophy (weakening and wasting of muscle). Some areas are high in Se, so you should test your silage to ensure you do not cause a toxicity. A deficiency can also cause an issue with retained placentas.

Iodine (I): Deficiency can cause small weak calves, dead or hairless calves, or calves that do not want to suck. The animal will have low immunity. It can also lead to poor reproductive performance. It is also not stored in the body and needs to be fed right up to calving.

Cobalt (Co): Involved in the synthesis of B12 by the rumen, deficiencies more often seen in sheep. Can cause a rough coat, poor appetite and anaemia.

Manganese (Mn): A deficiency can affect growth, bone formation and the nervous system leading to poor growth, reproduction and bowing of the joints.

Zinc (Zn): Plays a role in the immune system and repair of damaged tissues. while it is also involved in the synthesis and metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, teat keratin formation. A deficiency can lead to poor skin, mastitis, slow healing of wounds, bad hoofs and stiff joints. It can also lead to lower conception rates.


The silage sampled resulted in 72.8 % DMD with a 14.3%CP at 30.3% Dry matter. This is been offered to the priority weanlings stock . Cows calving in February are been fed second silage with lower DMD.

As the cows are in very good body condition- straw will be offered 1 day/week.