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October Farm Management Tips


Sinéad Devaney, Teagasc drystock advisor outlines some farm tasks that can be attended to this month. This includes checking the farm and farmyard is a safe place to work in for the winter ahead. She has tips for managing grassland and animals now, and scheme requirements for the month of October.

Weather & safety: 

As we approach the "back- end" of the year we can often expect stormy weather, high winds and increased raiinfall. This time last year we all felt the effects of Storm Lorenzo. The Autumn is a good time to inspect farmyards and fencing for areas that need attention. This will include the need to examine older buildings in particular for loose sheeting or slates in need of repair, lighting fixtures and wiring. There may be a cleanup required due to fallen debris or branches of trees. Take care if this involves use of a chainsaw. Ensure this work is only carried out by a competent chainsaw operator and that protective clothing is used. Include an inspection of boundary fences and fencing alongside watercourses also. It is possibly a good opportunity to revise the Farm Safety Statement at the same time for the farm and update it. It is a good habit to get into, and it also satisfies a requirement of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Inspection. Any areas for attention can be noted in the back of the book and a date set to correct these.

Winter Housing Preparation - Be prepared. Clean out animal housing thoroughly. Check for damaged/sagging slats. There is TAMS grant aid available at 40% and 60% rates for slat replacement. Your adviser can provide you with the details. Ensure all gates and feeding barriers are hanging safely and can be fastened securely. Check water bowls/piping for leakages. Don't delay. Do it today.

Grassland: 

Current grassland management influences grass growth for early spring grazing. Adopt a flexible approach to grazing.  Graze fields/paddocks down to 4-5cm with dry suckler cows or ewes. Heavier stock should be housed for periods if necessary. They can be released later if weather improves. At all costs, avoid severe poaching of fields/paddocks. Excessive poaching in Autumn/Winter will damage soil structure and restrict grass growth for years to come. Start closing in the third week of October and close paddocks in sequence up to late November. Fields closed in October should be available for grazing from mid February onwards and those closed in November should be available for grazing in March.

Beef:

Scanning - Scan all cows 35 days after mating has finished if you haven’t already done so. Scanning will verify if cow is in calf and help with the organisation of calving and labour requirements next spring. After scanning, cull all barren cows or heifers, sell them or fatten them for slaughter. This will help reduce unnecessary stock numbers for the winter housing period.

Feeding Weanlings - Best suggested practice is to feed in open troughs in a creep grazing area, where the amount of meal being fed can be regulated and all calves can be fed and seen at the same time. Feed at least 1kg per head/day of a 16% Crude Protein ration for 6 weeks pre weaning and 2 weeks post weaning.

Finishing Cattle - Sell cattle as they become fit. For beef cattle that are 30-40kg short of slaughter weight, feed 3 to 4kg head/day of a high energy low protein (12-14% CP) ration at grass for 6 to 8 weeks. Concentrate feeding will increase carcase weight, conformation score and kill out %. Under finished cattle could be sold at the mart. For cattle that are more than 40kg short of slaughter weight which have been on meal at grass, these animals can be housed and finished indoors. Feeding meal ad lib indoors will give high weight gains in the short term.

Parasites - Treat all weanlings for internal parasites, especially hoose. Treat all stock against all stages of Liver Fluke. It may be necessary to dose stock again in 6 or 8 weeks time depending on the veterinary product used. 

BEEP weighing requirements – Reminder that weights of cows and calves remain to be recorded on some farms. Weights must be submitted by 1st November for beef bred animals born between 1st July 2019 and 30th June 2020.  Housing time can be an ideal opportunity to do this. The weighing scales must be registered in advance also. Contact your advisor if you are unsure of how to do this.

Slurry Spreading – Reminder to empty slurry tanks before the 15th October. Empty and land-spread the contents of FYM stores before 30th October. Apply during suitable ground and weather conditions. Finally Farmers in GLAS have until 31st October to complete and return their Slurry Declaration forms if they are availing of the Low Emission Slurry Spreading (LESS) action in GLAS.