Farm Ireland

Friday 28 October 2016

Scanning provides a focus for calving season

John Joyce

Published 09/09/2015 | 02:30

Fertiliser spreading closing date is fast approaching
Fertiliser spreading closing date is fast approaching

I'm making slow but steady progress in my bid to cut a week off the calving season every year. My aim is to shorten the calving spread and the sleepless nights.

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In the next week I hope to take the opportunity to scan the suckler cows.

Last year the results from the scans were very good and I'm hoping for a repeat of that result.

The bull was taken away in mid August and we are aiming to scan around the 30-day mark after the bull was removed.

In my experience the scanning pays off. It gives a pattern and dates for the coming calving season. If twins show up then these cows can be given special treatment with feeding and closer observation at calving.

Any cows that are empty, which will hopefully not be too many, will be penned with the beef heifers at housing and fattened.

Last week we dosed the calves with lungworm doses containing 100mg/ml of Fenbendazole. This was the second dose of the grazing season.

All the calves seem to be thriving well with little or no coughing. This year I had planned to vaccinate against pneumonia in the weanlings but just didn't get time.

Any farmer I talk to that has tried it is very happy with the vaccination programme. With the bull weanlings getting stronger I decided to split them and their mothers away from the heifer calves.

The two groups should be easier to manage than one large group at this time of the year. It should also prevent any of the female weanlings from going in calf.

Speaking of dosing I also dosed the yearling bulls. They seemed to be coughing a lot with lungworm and it was affecting their thrive. Maybe it was a bit of hoose with the wet weather of July and August.

I will soon start to introduce meal to the bulls. However, I've no plans to house them yet if the weather stays fine.

Between the heavy thundery showers of two weeks ago we got the grass seed sown. We used a Moore direct drill option to sow it.

The grass seeds are a grazing and silage mix. We applied plenty of slug pellets and two bags of granulated lime at sowing. The grass seed was made up of four seed varieties and one clover. Abergain and Drumbo were the top two, with three kilograms of each in the mix. I am waiting with interest to see how the grass emerges and gets established.

If I am happy with it I will reseed some of the silage ground next year with the same machine as the fields are level and suitable for direct drilling.

With the fertiliser spreading closing date fast approaching I decided to spread 20 units of Sulfa CAN on the grazing ground. This will be the last of the fertiliser spread for this year.

The topper has also been retired for the rest of the year, with the focus now on building as much grass for the back-end of the year as possible.

I am hoping that there will be a jump in growing conditions for September.

I applied to take part in the Knowledge Transfer programme. This is the discussion group that will replace the old BTAP programme and will run for three years.

I have gained a lot of knowledge and ideas from the farm visits and meetings out of the last BTAP and STAP programmes so I was always going to sign up.

The only part I am disappointed with is you can only participate in one of the new groups.

This time I picked the cattle over the sheep. I am still waiting for the figures or star ratings from the ICBF.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

Indo Farming