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William Kingston January Update

Ensure autumn calving cows have enough energy in their diet

Ensure autumn calving cows have enough energy in their diet

  • Test silage
  • Balance for energy and protein
  • Weigh buckets of meal being fed to ensure accuracy
Follow Soil Sample Recommendations

Follow Soil Sample Recommendations

  • Take 1 soil sample for every 5ha on the farm (max.) every 4 years
  • Prioritise spreading lime
  • Then focus on building Phosphorus and Potassium indexes
Monitor Fluke Levels on Farm

Monitor Fluke Levels on Farm

  • Study Beef HealthCheck reports from the factory
  • Check faecal egg sample results
  • Consider land type and farm history

Animal Nutrition

William is a big believer in giving enough energy to breeding cattle to ensure optimum fertility. He tested his silage to assess the dry matter digestibility (DMD), which is the nutritional quality of the silage.

Based on these results he has the option of feeding 4kg of a 15% crude protein ration with his 68% DMD silage, or else 1kg of a 15% crude protein ration with his 73.7% DMD silage to ensure they have enough energy supply in the diet. This also supplies them with sufficient minerals in their diet and alleviates the need for any mineral dusting or lick buckets.

Having enough energy in the diet is crucial for breeding autumn calving cows indoors. By making excellent silage quality on his farm, William can reduce the amount of ration that he feeds and still maintain good breeding performance and milk supply for his calves.

Soil Fertility

Along with his local Teagasc advisor Anna Sexton, William took a number of soil samples on his farm in January 2021. Together they developed a fertiliser plan with field-specific recommendations for lime, slurry and chemical fertiliser.

The pH on the farm was all below the target of 6.2. This means that a lot of the phosphorus being spread on the farm was being locked up, and a percentage of any straight nitrogen being spread was being lost to the atmosphere (up to 33% of every bag spread on land that had a pH below 5.5). As a result, William spread 60 tonnes of lime on his farm in the last 12 months, which will be a huge asset to his farm. It will help to release some of the locked up phosphorus in the soil, and will ensure that he gets a better response to organic and chemical manures on the farm.

As a Future Beef Programme farmer, he is involved in the Signpost Programme and soil samples have been taken on his farm. It is expected that these will show a rise in the soil pH, along with a rise in the Phosphorus indexes on the farm when the results come back, as a result of the amount of lime he spread. In a year when fertiliser prices are so high, it is imperative that all organic and chemical manures will be spread as required, and that they will be used up by the grass plant.

Animal Health

William has not experienced any major issues for fluke on his farm and as such did not dose for it this winter. He always examines the Beef HealthCheck reports which he receives for any cattle slaughtered in the factory. Their livers are tested after slaughter and indicate if there is any fluke damage or live fluke present.

William’s faecal egg samples were taken at the end of December after housing and checked for evidence of fluke through the coproantigen test which looks for secretions from the liver fluke in the faeces of the host animal. In field situations it can detect fluke infections from around 5 - 6 weeks after infection, whereas other tests can only pick it up from 8 weeks plus.

When determining the risk of fluke on your farm, it is also important to consider the land type (i.e. is it heavy or free draining) as cattle are more likely to ingest metacercariae in wet areas and these develop into liver fluke in the animal.