Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 March 2018

Beef: Close encounters of the bovine kind

Sean Phelan from Galmoy takes time out during the Teagasc Greenfield Open Day 2016 in Co Kilkenny. Photo Roger Jones.
Sean Phelan from Galmoy takes time out during the Teagasc Greenfield Open Day 2016 in Co Kilkenny. Photo Roger Jones.

Robin Talbot

One morning last week I was changing a group of cows and calves from a paddock they had grazed out to a fresh paddock when one cow remained behind.

She was lying down out in the middle of the paddock and basically oblivious to the fact that all the other animals had gone. So, even from a distance, it was obvious there was something amiss.

Remembering the old saying, beware the sting of a dying wasp, I got the jeep and drove up to her to have a closer look.

When approaching a solitary animal out in the open, it is always important to remember that, just because they won't get up, it doesn't mean they can't get up.

I was pretty sure the cow was suffering from grass tetany. I rang the vet and she was out to the field within 30 minutes.

The vet quickly confirmed my suspicions and said the cow would have to be treated intravenously.

So, while the vet was getting the "stuff" ready, with safety still on my mind, I proceeded to put a headcollar with a rope attached on the cow.

I then manoeuvred the jeep round close to the cow and looped the rope around the bull-bar on the front.

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I then tightened the rope as firm as I could, looping it around the bull-bar but not tying it so it could be released quickly if required.

The vet then administered the medicine and, just as she was finished and had withdrawn the long needle, the cow burst into life. She jumped to her feet and all I could do was release the rope as she took off down the field at speed, with the rope dragging behind her.

We definitely won't be taking her to the local show.

Growth explosion

I suppose like most farms we have had what could be best described as an explosion of growth in the last week or so.

In a few short weeks, we have gone from feeding silage in the field to actually taking out some paddocks.

Walking the silage ground, we would hope to cut some this week. We are pleasantly surprised at how it has bulked up and, if the weather holds up, it should make good quality feed.

We were accepted into the first tranche of GLAS and one of the measures we opted for was wild bird cover. We have that sowed and it is just starting to emerge.

This is something we have never done before and we are looking forward to seeing what birds it will attract. Hopefully it won't just be crows, jackdaws and pigeons. We'll probably have enough of them in the winter barley.

We also have some new grass sowed. Amazingly, it was up within about eight days and is powering ahead at this stage.

We also took the opportunity to spray off another field with Roundup and hopefully we will get that re-seeded this week.

The winter barley has got its final application of Nitrogen, which has brought it up to 150 units/acre. It also got a fungicide spray and a growth regulator.

Hopefully one more fungicide spray will see us through to harvest.

Looking at it at the moment, even though you can never tell, it is very hard to see last year's record yields in it.

The spring barley is well up at this stage but we haven't done anything with it yet in terms of spraying.

It got 4 cwt/acre of 10-5-25 at sowing time so we will eventually bring that up to close to 100 units of N per acre.

Our spring oats, which was sowed early, is powering ahead and has been sprayed for weeds, plus a fungicide, plus a growth regulator.

When we had the calves in last week to inject them for hoose and worms, we took the opportunity to weigh some of them and I was pleasantly surprised that they don't seem to be showing any ill-effects of the tough spring, with a lot of the stronger bull calves coming in around 400kg.

This gives them an average daily gain from birth of around 1.3kg.

Looking at them in the yard and seeing how strong they are getting, I'd say we will possibly have to start thinking of weaning them in the next couple of weeks.

We also put the cows up the crush and, with a list of their tag numbers, both Jumbo and Department, printed off, we checked them off to make sure they were correlated properly and also noted any cows that were missing a department tag. We will order them and replace them.

Robin Talbot farms in partnership with his mother Pam and wife Ann in Ballacolla, Co Laois.

Indo Farming