William Kingston January/February Update
Calving and breeding update
- Calving has finished on the farm
- Most females are bred but repeats appear high at 6-9 weeks
- Blood samples may indicate if there is any underlying issue
Plans for improving silage quality
- Silage fields will be grazed first on the home block
- Target silage cutting date of 15th-20th May
- Overall aim is to improve silage quality & reduce ration bill for 2023
Finishing cattle details
- 3 heifers slaughtered in January
- AA bonus added 20c/kg to one 15.8 month heifer
- 2-3 finishing bulls fir for the factory & will be going in the next week
Calving has finished on the farm since late December with 38 live calves on the ground from 38 cows. One calf died at birth and another cow had a set of twins. Overall William is happy with the calving performance this year and had no major issues.
There are 36 females bred on the farm to date, with 4 later calving cows yet to be served. Breeding started on 1st October (calving from 19th July 2023) and William has found that he has had more repeats after 6 to 9 weeks than normal. The cows and heifers are in good body condition. The calves had been grazing by day from the shed which helped to break the maternal bond for the cows to come cycling. William is planning to request a mineral breakdown of the ration to check that it is meeting their dietary requirements and will also send a silage sample for testing as he works through the silage pit. He is also considering taking blood samples to identify if there is any undetected disease in the herd such as leptospirosis or neospora, as he is not currently vaccinating the cows for anything. The cows will be scanned in March.
There are 2 cows due to calve in spring and William has decided to sell these this year and focus solely on the autumn calving herd instead.
William is taking another silage sample from the pit as he continues to move through it. He was disappointed with the initial results of 64-65% DMD from the main crop, although surplus bales tested at 70% DMD.
The silage fields around the home block of land have a substantial amount of RVP/Italian ryegrass in them. While this a fast growing grass, the quality can deteriorate quicker than perennial ryegrass as a result. To combat this, he will graze the silage fields with the autumn cows and calves before it is closed up. This will allow the herd to settle at grass before they are moved over to the out farm for the summer. They will be turned out when the weather settles and ground conditions are suitable for grazing.
William typically cuts silage during the last week in May and will target a cutting date of 15th-20th May going forward to harvest it when the DMD is higher, weather permitting. When weather conditions allow and soil temperatures rise above 6oC, William will spread slurry from the slatted tanks at a rate of 2,500 to 3,000 gallons per acre using the dribble bar. This will be then topped up with protected urea to meet the crop demand. If the protected urea is spread any later than usual, William can reduce the rate to allow for an uptake of 2 units per day up until the target cutting date of 15th-20th May.
While collecting details for his 2022 profit monitor, William can already see that his ration bill is significantly up on 2021. Making a plan to improve the silage quality for this year will help to reduce the cost for 2023.
Three heifers were slaughter on 16th January. One heifer was 16.8 months of age and she graded R+3=, with a carcass weight of 275kg and made €1529 with the 20c/kg AA bonus.
Another heifer was 23 months of age and graded R=4-. She was 301kg carcass weight and made €1593.
The final heifer was a free martin (heifer twin to a male). William found that she was slow to gain weight all along and was 28 months at slaughter. She graded R-4= at a carcass weight of 313kg and made €1661.
There are 2-3 bulls that will be going to the factory at under 16 months of age in the coming week.