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William Kingston September/October Update

Planning the breeding season

Planning the breeding season

  • Set breeding dates for your farm, targeting a 12 week breeding season
  • Choose AI bulls for breeding replacements that are over 5 stars on the replacement index, have a positive figure for daughter milk and a negative figure for daughter calving interval
  • Match your bull to your cow – use terminal bulls on poorer cows and replacement bulls on good maternal cows
Autumn targets

Autumn targets

  • Target a farm cover of 100 kg DM/ha and 25-30 days of grass ahead
  • Enter details on PastureBase to set up your autumn planner and monitor targets
  • Have a closing plan for your farm so that paddocks are set up for grazing in spring
Finishing autumn born u16 month bulls

Finishing autumn born u16 month bulls

  • Autumn born bulls for finishing under 16 months should be housed
  • Feeding them 3-4kg of ration and silage at grass will help them to adjust to an indoor finishing diet easier
  • Build up ration levels gradually – no more than 1kg in a week or 0.5kg every 3 days


11 cows are left to calve that are due from8th October to 25th December. 26 cows have calved so far, producing 27 calves with one set of twins.  No major issues have taken place during calving.

William plans to start breeding 40 females from 1st October (calving from 19th July 2023) and finish around 24th December (finish calving 10th October) to give a 12 week breeding season.

The AI bulls that have been picked are:

  • BB4438, BA4661, PT2165, CH7503, LM7599 (terminal bulls)
  • AU6286, LM8109 (good for terminal and breeding replacements)
  • AA7308, LM2014 (heifers)

Cows selected to breed replacements from should be genotyped over €97 on the replacement index (i.e. minimum 4 stars), have a positive figure for carcass weight (>10kg), have a positive figure for daughter milk (>5kg) and a negative figure for daughter calving interval (<0 days). Visually they should have good bags of milk, have good health with no lameness or mastitis issues and should be docile.


William had a farm cover of 951 kg DM/ha on the home farm on 25th September. The growth rate was 33 kg DM/ha and the demand was 26 kg DM/ha, with 37 days of grass ahead.

Home farm

The out farm had an average cover of 788 kg DM/ha, with a growth rate of 41 kg DM/ha, a demand of 27 kg DM/ha and 29 days of grass ahead.

Out farm

Although the average farm covers are lower than the target of 1000 kg DM/ha, William is happy with the grass growth rates and the number for days ahead for the time of year (target 25-30 days). His demand will also be reducing further when the autumn bulls are housed for finishing.

The last round of fertiliser was spread on all paddocks over the last 4 to 6 weeks. The home block of land all got 20 units of protected urea per acre in early September. Six paddocks in the out farm got 20 units per acre of protected urea in September, 2 paddocks got 2 bags of 18-6-12 per acre and the rest got 20 units of protected urea per acre in August.

One strong paddock was cut for silage on 29th of August that yielded 1089 kg DM/ha.

William plans to close up his paddocks for the autumn in a manner which will allow his to graze them in spring. He plans to start the last rotation on 14th October. His target is to graze 60% of the farm by 12th November, with the final 40% being grazed by 3rd December once weather conditions allow. The paddocks to be grazed as the first third in spring will be closed in early November as they will have lower covers for turnout. The next third of paddocks for grazing in spring will be the first ones closed up this autumn. This will allow cattle to be settled at grass before letting them into heavy covers. The final third of paddocks to be grazed in the autumn will be the last ones for grazing in spring.

The autumn grazing plan details will be entered on to PastureBase Ireland and can be monitored as William enters the grazing dates onto the system, so that he can see whether he is on, below or ahead of target. This also means that his farm will be well set up for grazing in spring if the weather conditions allow.

Animal Nutrition

9 bulls were housed for feeding on 27th August. They were gradually built up to 11kg of a 15% CP ration/head/day and are getting good quality silage and straw ad-lib. It is hoped that they will be finished by the end of November (approximately 90-100 days indoors). 6 of the younger and lighter bulls are still at grass and are due to be housed for finishing on the 1st of October. William will feed them 2-3kg of ration at grass to help their stomachs adjust to their new indoor diet in an effort to reduce stress on them and help them keep thriving. They will be penned separately to the bulls that are indoors already.

One heifer and one cow are also indoors for finishing. The heifer is getting 3.5 kg ration/day and the cow is getting 15kg, along with good quality silage.

Silage samples have been taken on the farm and the results will be used to balance diets for the weanlings and cows over winter.

William is dusting paddocks with magnesium powder to prevent tetany in the cows at grass.