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Grassland and Cattle Management in July


July is an important month for getting second cut silage crops harvested and getting quality back in the sward and setting the farm up for a plentiful supply of quality grass in the autumn. John Galvin, B&T Drystock Adviser with Teagasc Galway/Clare tells us more

Driving the roads of the county this time of year and it is amazing the contrast in levels of management of grass that exist on farms. In July, grass growth generally slows down after the May/June surge and it is an important month for getting second cut silage crops harvested and getting quality back in the sward and setting the farm up for a plentiful supply of quality grass in the autumn.

Grassland Management:

Due to a surge in growth rates in the month of June, there has been an oversupply of grass on many drystock farms. Managing this supply has become a challenge with many pastures gone stemmy resulting in poor grass quality. Forcing cattle, especially young growing cattle, to graze this will result in reduced intakes, reduced growth rates and weight gain. Dry autumn calving cows and dry ewes are ideal candidates to try and clean out these fields. Otherwise a combination of the use of strip wires and topping is the only other way of getting quality back in the sward. On higher stocked farms where grass is in high demand or perhaps getting scarce apply .75-1 bag of Pro Urea + S per acre and cease topping.

Fields with high grass covers should be removed as baled silage. Aftergrass is an ideal quality feed for young growing stock; however grazing weaned bucket reared calves on lush aftergrass can lead to scouring due to incomplete rumen development. Due to a wet and cold May first cut silage crops were generally below average this year, so it would be advisable to carry out a winter feed budget and plan for second cut silage accordingly. Second cut silage ground should have received 2000-2500gls of cattle slurry + 1-1.5 bags of ProUrea + S.

Reseeding:

Make plans now for fields that are to be reseeded. Carry out soil analysis to establish the lime and nutrient status (results take >2weeks). Old pastures should be sprayed off with a glyphosate product to allow sufficient time (3-4 weeks) for complete sward destruction.

Parasites in Cattle at Grass:

Lungworms/gutworms tend to become prevalent in the second half of the grazing season. The prolonged period of dry warm weather is conducive to lower levels of parasite activity, however within three weeks after rain, parasite activity tends to increase dramatically.  Young stock especially bucket reared calves are susceptible. The symptoms for lungworms include coughing when suddenly moved, which if neglected can leave the animal open to secondary infections such as pneumonia.  Gut worm symptoms may not be as apparent in cattle but these include lack of intake, lack of thrive and scouring.  Faecal egg counting can be a very useful tool to establish if a treatment is warranted and if carried out before and after treatment, the efficacy of the product used can be determined. Faecal egg counting whilst very useful in detecting gut worms, it is not a reliable method of detecting lung worms.

Beef Schemes:

BEAM – For the applicants, that met the requirement to reduce their bovine livestock manure nitrogen by 5%, the scheme is now complete since the 30th of June and they can resume to desired stocking levels if they so wish. This combined with much improved factory prices and good grass growth rates have created a very buoyant cattle trade currently. 

For the applicants that took the option to defer the reduction period until the end of 2021 and have not met the reduction requirement they have until then to meet requirements.

For the applicants who neither deferred the period or met the reduction requirements the Dept. Of Agriculture will be requesting a recoupment of monies.

BEEP S – The requirements for this are all focused around weaning and more importantly planning your weaning i.e. Weighing prior to weaning, meal feeding/vaccination before and after weaning and carrying out faecal sampling are the measures that need to be planned carefully.

BDGP – Ensure you fulfil the male and female breeding requirements of the scheme to avoid penalties. Don’t forget to return genotyping tags to the laboratory and complete your carbon navigator for 2020 on ICBF to avoid a delay in payment.

Breeding & Herd Management:

Suckler farmers need to have definitive start and end to their breeding season and more importantly their calving season. Withdrawing the bull by mid- July will result in having no calves born in May next year. Make plans to scan the herd and replacement heifers a month after the breeding season ceases to identify any empty ones. With the current high demand and positive outlook for finished cattle, empty cows and heifers should be finished in the Autumn/early winter to reduce winter feeding costs.  Generally feeding meals at grass does not pay and is really only compensating for poor grassland management.

These are just a few of many items that farmers need to give attention to over the next few weeks. With the schools off for the summer and the possibility of the gradual opening up of society there is much to look forward to. Lastly take some time off, lest we forget the old proverb “All work and no play ... ”