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Wesley Browne November/December

Animal Nutrition

Animal Nutrition

  • Silage Sample results 2022
  • Mineral supplementation of pre calving


  • Meeting the weight targets over the winter
  • Pre calving management


  • Closing Covers for the 2022 season
  • Fertiliser purchased for spring 2023

Animal Nutrition

The silage was sampled and the results were very good. The first sample below had a DMD of 75.4% , Crude Protein of 15.4% and a dry matter of 25.6%. This silage will be given to the weanlings.


The above sample was a later cut which will be ideal for the spring calving cows and depending on cow condition some restriction of the silage maybe required. The DMD is 69.9% .

Mineral Supplementation.

Feeding a proper mineral supplement 100-120 days pre calving is very important. The mineral fed should contain the following;

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.


Vitamin A: Increases disease resistance and stimulates the immune system. Cows that have a deficiency in vitamin A can also produce dead, weak or blind calves because vitamin A is needed for normal growth and development including growth of the foetus. Again it is passed through the colostrum. Can also cause retained placenta.

Vitamin D3: Essential in calcium and phosphorous metabolism. Promotes growth and mineralisation of healthy bones, therefore plays an important role in the prevention of milk fever

Vitamin E: Required for good health and immune function. If fed pre calving it elevates the level in colostrum and help to keep your calves heathy. It does not pass through the placenta, so calves must get adequate colostrum.


To the bull weanlings are currently on 2.5kgs of meal plus high quality silage. The target ADG for the bulls is 1.5kgs LW/day. The meal will be increased to 4kgs after Christmas. The ration given is a 16% Protein. The bulls have plenty of lying space and feeding space and are well bedded. The target is get the bulls finished at 14months.

The heifers are getting top quality silage plus 2.5kgs of meal/head/day also. All of the weanlings were clipped and dosed at Christmas.


Pre- Calving Management

There are 65 mature cows to calve and 25 in calf heifers. The heifers are penned separately to the cows and are getting a better quality silage ad –lib.

The 65 cows get 2 bales  of silage per day. They are in very good body condition of 3 so therefore they need to be fit not fat for calving.  Both the cows and incalf heifers will be dung samples after Christmas.







The closing cover was taken on Dec 7th; The covers range from 475kgsDM/ha to 850kgsDM/ha giving and average farm cover of 685kgs DM/ha. Therefore, there are no heavy covers been carried over the winter.

3 ton of  Urea has been purchased for spring 2023 at a cost of €950/ton.