Thursday 29 September 2016

Beef: A thorough winter dosing regime will pay for itself

John Joyce

Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30

Winter housing and feeding are not far away.
Winter housing and feeding are not far away.

All stock have now been housed and are settling very well into their new surroundings.

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One group of stock I am always worried about at housing are the weanlings.

They seem to have coped well with housing and been weaned, but I am monitoring them closely for pneumonia or just being off-form with a virus. So far there have been no problems. They are getting 1kg of meal in the morning and I find it a great time to observe them to see if they are all out eating.

With the winter housing date a little latter than other years, I will postpone the treatment of for winter parasites by a week or two. Fluke and lice are the two main ones. With the mild weather I have already seen a few cattle licking themselves.

The plan is to treat them with a spot on pour on between their shoulders for the lice and a fluke dose in early January to cover all three stages of fluke.

I always put a high emphasis on treating these winter parasites as there is little point in feeding expensive silage and meal and having great accommodation for stock if they have a problem with worms or lice.

Dosing - be it pour on, oral or the injectables - always pays for itself in the long run.

Another job that's well worth doing at housing is trimming the tails of the finishing cattle and the weanlings to keep them cleaner. The cows' tails will also be trimmed as this will keep them neater at calving time, particularly if they have to be handled or when the new born calf is getting its first drink.

One thing I have noticed this winter is that the silage seems to be lasting longer and the stock appear very contented on it - maybe it's just the mild weather and this could change quickly if we get a cold snap.

I plan to dust the dry cow mineral on the silage for the cows before calving, but maybe looking at a bolus form for the younger stock. I have never tried it before and would be interest to see how the bolus would work.

Cross compliance

Last week I had a Bord Bia quality assurance audit for both the beef and lamb. I have no problem with the paperwork and the audit - especially when most of the paperwork should be done as part of a cross compliance inspection.

It is also a great way to market our beef and lamb to supermarkets here and overseas markets, but we as farmers get little monetary reward for their efforts in qualifying for the scheme. I do think that any stock, once they are quality assured should get a bonus.

Next week is our annual TB test. All stock are housed and are grouped according to size and age so the job should run smoothly.

This is a suitable time of the year for the test as the farm is not as busy work-wise and the stock are housed so there should be no running around the fields after them.

On the sheep side of the farm, I am hoping to scan the ewes in the next week or two. This will be approximately 100 days from the date the rams were introduced. This is another task that pays for itself.

The flock will then be segregated into singles, doubles, triplets and empties and all fed accordingly.

December is always a month to look back on the year past. One thing I do at the start of every year is to set a few targets for all the farm enterprises for the coming year.

These are realistic targets and are often quite simple. They might be as basic as maybe increasing stock number by 10pc or increasing turnover.

Another priority has been encouraging all of our employees, contractors and professional people working with my farming enterprise to approach the task in hand with a positive and can-do attitude to their work on the farm.

So thanks to all people associated with Joyce farming for another successful year and a special thanks too to all the Farming Independent readers for their feedback.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

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