Monday 26 September 2016

Dung delivers a great burst of growth on grazed fields

John Joyce

Published 24/08/2016 | 02:30

The cows have grazed the fields tightly. Stock Photo
The cows have grazed the fields tightly. Stock Photo

At this time of the year I like to keep ticking the boxes on the work front. So, with this in mind, another job we tackled in the last week was the dung pile.

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We try clean out the sheds as early as possible in the summer, this allows time for the houses to dry out and we can then do any repairs that are needed for the winter. There are a few gate hangers and closers that need to be welded to make life that bit easier.

For the last number of years, we have spread the dung on the poorer fields of the farm at this time of the year and have gotten great results. These fields by nature are of moor type soils and are only used for grazing. There is also the possibility these fields could become wet later in the year and be unsuitable for spreading.

The cows have grazed them tightly, then I topped them before spreading a light and even coat of dung on them. This usually gives a great burst of growth for these fields without affecting the grazing pattern.

This week I hope to get the calves dosed for lung and stomach worms. This will be their second dose. They are not coughing but I find that dosing the calves during the summer lowers the burden of worms and stress when they are weaned later in the year.

It is a white benzimidazole drench. The biggest part of the job is to get them in and sort them from the cows. It is a bit of an effort at this time of the year, but pays off latter in the year when I find there is less sick weanlings in the sheds. Last week we also dosed the yearlings with the same dose. They had been coughing a little and have improved in thrive since. It being a high volume dose at 10ml per 50kgs, the gun was a little harder to use.

The stock bull has been with the cows for the last 13 weeks, so I decided to remove him from the cows yesterday and retire him for the rest of the year and give him a well-earned break.

I have been trying to compact the calving and simplify the sucker enterprise as must as possible over the last few years. I did notice two cows bulling in the last week and these were recorded as being in heat before so they were definitely repeats.

Other than that, there has been very little activity in the herd. Hopefully the cows and heifer should scan pretty well. With loads of grass around the farm, the cows should be in great body condition going into the winter and the calves should have extra milk available to them.

The suckler herd has been a lot more content and easier to manage this year. I think it is because of the good grass growth. When we turned out the cows in the spring time, we earmarked six old cows for culling that were gone too old for breeding and put them on their own with their calves.

These cows have greatly increased body condition and with a few kilograms of meal on the grass, I am hoping to have them factory fit by the time the calves are weaned in the autumn. It would be a bit of a waste of shed space to house them for the winter. But factory prices for cull cows are a little disappointing at the moment.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

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