Saturday 1 October 2016

Beef: My five point plan to beat the bad weather

John Joyce

Published 04/05/2016 | 02:30

Farmer Tom Murphy feading animals on his farm near Clogheen, Co Tipperary. After a poor spring and return of wintry conditions in the past week, many farmers could be feeding their stock well into May. Photo: Frank Mc Grath.
Farmer Tom Murphy feading animals on his farm near Clogheen, Co Tipperary. After a poor spring and return of wintry conditions in the past week, many farmers could be feeding their stock well into May. Photo: Frank Mc Grath.

With the effects of the recent cold snap and late spring causing major problems for the farm I have been working on a plan to weather it as best I can.

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The biggest problem is the lack of grass growth, so I have put the cows back on to good quality round bale silage and slowed the grazing right down.

There is a little more than 50 bales left so I might as well use some of them and try to let some grass build in front of the cows again and give the fertiliser that is spread a chance to work.

The cows are in good condition so it should not set them back too much.

Next I have decided not to let out the young bulls and to finish them out of the shed during the summer.

They have a good covering of flesh and the cold weather would only set them walking around by the ditches. They are happy and contented inside. They are on a high maize meal diet at the moment with a little bit of round bale silage.

The ration has a 13pc protein content and is made up of both flaked and ground maize.

The third part of my plan is to postpone closing approximately half of the silage ground.

If I close it all there will be too much ground taken out of the grazing area and this will put too much pressure on the remainder of the grazing area.

The ground that is closed is coming slowly and I hope to keep it closed. Once the weather gets milder and I am happy with grass growth, it will be easier to close up the rest of it.

Since all the ground has been grazed tightly, there will be no butt so the silage quality won't be that overly affected.

Yearlings

Action number four is to keep the yearlings that are on grass in small groups in an effort to settle them down quickly before joining up the groups.

They will last longer in their grazing area and not get into the habit of looking to be moved on too quickly.

Again, once the weather improves a little, they can be grouped together in a proper rotation grazing plan. The yearlings might be a slight bit under weight for their age, but I always find that these animals turn inside out with the spring grass.

The sheep plan comes next. It has been a tough spring for the flock, but they had good grass up until now.

They rotation will also be slowed down. Some of the ewes that are lambed for over two months are in fair condition so can put up with a bit of hardship.

The ewes are in six batches and I have five creep feeders out for the lambs. I want to keep the lambs thriving and start selling some of them as soon as possible. If they get stunted at this stage it can be slow to get them going again.

The creep feed is just a simple cheap mix with a high rolled barley content.

I don't think any of these measures or action are too extreme and can easily be reversed when the grass growth picks up and the weather turns for the better.

I find the sooner you take action and put a plan in place, the better the outcome is.

Every year at turnout I inject all the cattle with a copper supplement injection.

The cows get 6ml with the yearlings getting 4mls. It is one mineral the farm has a deficiency in. Cow fertility has improved greatly on it as has thrive in the younger cattle.

It is just a simple 20mg/ml of copper injection into the neck muscle. I don't inject the beef animals as their ration contains minerals.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

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