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Teagasc Farm Management Tips for September

25 August 2017
Type Media Article

By Anthony O'Connor, Teagasc Adviser, Galway/Clare Region

Grassland:

  • Lime - This is the key to unlocking NPK from your soil, making these nutrients available for plant growth. Consider applying lime this backend while weather and ground conditions allow. Lime will encourage growth in the spring by releasing organic and fertiliser N from the soil, encourage earthworm and microbial activity, releasing soil P for plant growth etc.
  • Aim to prioritise the best grass available towards the most productive stock i.e. calves/weanlings, finishing lambs, beef cattle etc.
  • Sward Height - Grass height should be at 5cm post grazing of paddocks/fields.
  • Nitrogen - Apply 1 bag of CAN + 5% Sulphur per acre on bare fields/after-grass before 15th September. This will boost grass growth and build up a reserve of grass for the autumn.
  • Reseeding - Ensure all reseeding is completed by 14th September, using chemical N or P with the grass seed after this date could incur a penalty under Cross Compliance. Post emergence sprays are essential to control docks, redshank and chickweed (at 2-3 leaf stage which is normally at about 6 weeks after sowing). Walk reseeded area to check which seedling weeds are present. If Clover is present in the new ley, use Legumex DB, Underclear or some other appropriate herbicide. If no clover is present, use Nintex etc. Check spray label carefully before use.

Beef:

  • Scanning - Scan all cows/heifers 35 days after mating has finished. 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 or fatten them for slaughter.  
  • Creep Grazing - This helps break the cow/calf bond and ensures a supply of quality grass for weanlings.
  • Weanling Sales - Plan your weaning NOW. Aim to feed at least 2kg/head/day of a 16% crude protein ration for at least 6 weeks pre-weaning and for 2 weeks post-weaning before sale. Best suggested practice is to feed concentrates in open troughs in the creep grazing area where amount of meal can be regulated and where all calves can be fed and be seen at the same time. Ensure all calves are TB tested and are free of parasites, especially hoose, before 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.  Slaughter beef cattle before they are 30 months of age. Farmers finishing cattle need to be in touch with their factory agents to check prices, age limits, fat scores and weight restrictions.
  • Replacement Heifers - Avoid buying in problems and disease. Breed your own replacements. Aim to have your home bred heifers 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 2 years. Select potential replacements NOW on the basis of dam's mothering ability, temperament, milk yield, conformation and growth rate. Pay particular attention to documents such as HerdPlus and Eurostar Replacement Index of their dams. Once weaned, these potential replacements should be grazed and fed on their own, away from weanling bulls, stock bulls, castrated male steers.
  • BDGP 1 - In the coming few weeks ICBF will do another run of €uro-star evaluations on your herd. Examine your new BDGP report to see how many cows/heifers are 4 or 5 star under the replacement index. Cows that have performed poorly for you and have perhaps have low star values should be considered for culling.  If replacing your stock bull this autumn, follow the requirements of the Programme. At least one stock bull on the holding on 30th June 2019, must have been genotyped four-star or five-star on either the Terminal or Replacement index and this, or a similar four-star or five-star bull, must be retained on the holding until 30th June 2020. Any replacement heifer or bull purchased should only be bought from a reliable known source and the Eurostar ratings known before purchase.

Remember that if you are in the BDGP programme you need to get a Carbon Navigator completed before 31st October 2017

Environment:

  • Fertiliser - Cease applying N and P on the 14thSeptember.  Using these chemical nutrients after this date could incur a penalty under Cross Compliance.
  • Slurry - Ensure all slurry/effluent/soiled water tanks are empty by 14thOctober.  Spread any remaining slurry in tanks during September while weather and ground conditions allow.