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November Farm Management Tips

31 October 2017
Type Media Article

By Anthony O'Connor, Teagasc Adviser, Galway/Clare Regional Unit

With the time changed, the days shorten, darkness descends earlier, look to prepare land, livestock and farmyards for the winter. 

Grassland:

The 2018 grazing season starts NOW. Every day you extend the grazing season is a bonus. However, with grass rapidly dwindling, don't let stock lose condition by leaving out too long. Avoid poaching of fields at all costs. Aim to have 60% of farm grazed out by early November and have most stock housed by late November. Fields closed in late November will not have a supply of grass available until late March or early April. Supplement stock at grass with concentrates where necessary. Graze paddocks down to 4cm and close. Weanlings, cull ewes etc can graze out paddocks. House heaviest stock first, i.e. dry suckler cows, unfinished beef cattle. 

Lime - Apply any lime required on the basis of a soil test now, while weather and ground conditions allow. Lime will unlock any NPK in soil, making them available for plant growth. 

Fodder Supply - With many farmers having housed some stock already due to weather conditions, there is a need to monitor fodder stocks carefully. Complete a simple fodder budget for your farm. If projected shortage, you may need to purchase extra fodder or reduce stock numbers. Have a plan in mind to stretch out fodder stocks.

Beef:

Grass Tetany - Suckler cows with late-born suckling calves can be left out until late November if they have good grass and dry, underfoot conditions. These cows should have access to Magnesium licks to prevent Grass Tetany occurring. 

Replacement Heifers - Post weaning thrive needs to be maintained in selected replacements. They are the future of your herd. Target ADG should be 0.6kg per head/day. Continue to feed 1.0 to 2.0kgs per head/day of concentrates post weaning. Your home bred or purchased heifers which need to be well developed and robust at mating time next year (weighing at least 370 to 430kg depending on heifer breed), while calving down at a minimum age of two years. Early turnout pre breeding for lighter replacement heifers needs to be considered. If involved in the BDGP, these replacements should have a 4 or 5 star rating on the ICBF Eurostar Replacement Index. 

Beef Cattle - For steers/cull cows at grass that are within 10 to 20kg of slaughter weight, continue to feed 3 to 4kg per head/day of a high energy, low protein ration. Concentrate feeding will increase carcase weight, conformation score and kill out %. Aim to have cattle less than 30 months, graded at R3 or R4 at slaughter. Consider selling any under finished animals at the mart.

Finishing Indoors - Unfinished beef cattle which have been on meal at grass can be housed and fed concentrates ad lib. This gives a very high ADG in the short term. These cattle should be fit to slaughter within two months. 

PhD for Young Stock - Weanlings will benefit from a PhD, a Pre housing Dose given 2-3 weeks prior to housing.  Use an Avermectin based product. These products provide residual cover for a period of 3-6 weeks.  Giving a PhD 2-3 weeks before housing will ensure all animal's lungs are in a healthy condition prior to the high stress housing period.

Parasites - All stock to be overwintered need to be treated for Liver Fluke, Hoose, worms and Lice. Consult your Vet on the most suitable product to use. All stock should be treated for Fluke infection 14 days post housing. For young stock, such as weanlings, use a veterinary product that will kill early immature fluke, immature fluke and adult fluke. Depending on product used on your herd, it may be necessary to treat again against all stages of Liver Fluke in 8 to 10 weeks'

Farm Management:

P and K - Soil sample results indicate low levels of P and K on farms in the region. Both are essential for plant growth, for the uptake and utilisation of Nitrogen by grass plants. Ensure you have a correct balance of P, K and Lime on your farm. Taking soil samples and following the recommendations of Teagasc Adviser or Agricultural Consultant will achieve this while controlling fertiliser costs by pinpointing fields that have a deficit/surplus of P and K.