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William Kingston September/October Update 2023

Finishing bulls

Finishing bulls

  • First of the finishing bulls are housed
  • They have been dosed for gastro intestinal worms and lung worms
  • Ration is being built up gradually to ad lib
Ideal paddock size

Ideal paddock size

  • How to calculate the ideal paddock size for 3 days grazing
  • William’s ideal paddock size is 1.07 ha
  • Actual paddock size is 0.99ha and these are subdivided further
Shed update

Shed update

  • Progress on the new shed
  • The tank has been poured
  • Waiting for at least 28 days before backfilling the tank


William has 22 bulls for finishing under 16 months of age this year. 8 bulls were housed for finishing on 1st August. They were selected according to their date of birth, which was around 1st August 2022 and they are due to be finished in November. They were dosed with an albendazole drench to treat them for gastro intestinal worms and lung worms. No vaccinations are given as the herd is closed and no issues have historically arisen with pneumonia at housing.

The bulls were fed no ration pre-housing due to time pressure during silage season, cows calving and challenging ground conditions. At housing, they started eating 3 kg of a 15% crude protein, high energy ration which was split into 2 feeds. This was built up gradually (0.5kg every 3 days) and they will eventually be finished on 10-12kg/head/day ad lib. The next batch for finishing will soon be housed and they will also start of 3kg of ration/head/day.  They will be housed separately to the first batch of bulls to help avoid any fighting in the shed. There is a range of 17 weeks between the youngest and oldest bulls, but they averaged 424kg on 24th June 2023. If weather conditions improve, the remaining bulls will be fed 2-3kg/day at grass before housing, to help adjust them to their new diet.

One bull was a bucket reared twin that did not perform as well as his comrade. He was only 266kg on 24th June at 10 months of age so William made the decision to castrate him and he will now be finished with the heifers next year.

Finishing bulls require 2.6m2 of lying space and 0.65m feed space. William has sufficient lying space as the bulls are housed on the cubicles and more than enough feed space available for them. Last year the 15 finishing bulls gained 1.31kg/day up until 1st October so William hopes that they will perform well again this year.

Yearling bull for finishing

Figure 1: One of the bulls for finishing this year


William was calculating the ideal paddock size on the farm. This can be done as follows;

1. Calculate demand per day

Multiply average cow & calf weight by 2%:

1084kg x 2% = 21.68 kg dry matter/day

 2. Calculate group demand

Multiply no. of animals x demand in 1:

23 cows with calves x 21.68 kg DM/day = 498.64 kg DM/day

 3. Calculate group demand for 3 days

Target is 3 days per paddock so multiply the group’s daily demand by 3:

498.64 kg DM x 3 days = 1495.92 kg DM/ 3 days

 4. Calculate ideal padock size in ha

Target pre-grazing height is 1400 kg DM/ha so divide 3 day demand in 3 by 1400 kg DM/ha:

1495.92 kg DM / 1400 kg DM/ha = 1.07 ha

5. Calculate ideal paddock size in acres

Multiply ideal size in ha by 2.471:

1.07ha x 2.471 = 2.64 acres

William’s average paddock size at present is 0.99ha so he is ahead of target already. He makes the grazing area even smaller by subdividing the existing paddocks into daily allocations to achieve good graze outs and his cattle perform well at grass as a result.

Health & Safety

The new shed is progressing well and the tank was poured on 11th August. It requires at least 28 days to set before it can be backfilled. The tank measures 70ft in length by 12ft6” slat in width. It will contain 16 cubicles and a lie back for calves.

Progress on the new tank

Figure 2: Progress to date on the new shed being built