As winter sets in we want more better priced calves to improve performance
The winter seems to have come in overnight. All cows and calves are now in their winter quarters and they seem to have settled in very quickly to the routine. The cows and calves are getting a diet of grass silage, maize silage, soya and straw.
Separately from that, the calves are being fed 1-2kg of a ration, depending on sex and breed. This ration is made up of maize meal, citrus pulp, soya, rolled barley and molasses with a mineral supplement. We make this ration up ourselves in the feeder wagon, at a cost of €220/t. So it is costing 20-40c/hd/day, again depending on sex and breed.
Including bedding I estimate it is costing us €2.05/day/cow, with the calf in addition to that. So it costs us about €330 to keep a cow and calf for a 140-day winter. The cows will be treated for fluke, worms and lice in the next few weeks.
In terms of the progress of the breeding season, we carry a clipboard on the tractor with the feeder wagon so that we can record the jumbo tags of any of the cows we see bulling. So far we have, thankfully, seen very few repeats.
We have also housed the remainder of the weanling heifers and they've been sorted and penned according to weight and breed. These were born in August/September last year. The Belgian Blue heifers averaged 480kg at housing and the Limousins 440kg. Our plan with these would be to grow them at about 0.6kg/day over the winter and turn them out early to grass in the spring with a view to finishing them around July/August. These will also be treated for fluke, worms and lice.
We have approximately 16 cows that are being culled off but are still rearing calves. We went through these a few weeks ago and picked out 11 that were getting close to factory-fit.
So we housed them at that stage and started to feed them, with a view to slaughtering them in the next few weeks. We introduced a creep area for their calves, which are about three months old. They took to this very well and are eating quite a bit of meal at this stage, so I will have no worries about weaning them. The remaining cull cows will be turned out to grass in the spring and will be sold after weaning.