A good dosing is essential to keep stock thriving in winter
Most of our stock are housed and settling in to their new surroundings for the winter.
We usually start our winter parasite control programme at this time of year, but I will delay it for a few weeks this year, given the late housing date.
Fluke and lice are the two major ones on my hit list.
The plan is to treat for lice with Taktic, which is added to water and sprayed on the cattle. I have used it for the last few years and am very happy with the product. It is also cost-effective.
For the last few years I have used an oral dose for fluke with a product that covers all stages of fluke.
Dosing can be labour-intensive and labour is hard to find at this time of the year, so I am thinking of going down the injectable route.
Also when I am running the stock through the chute, I trim all of their tails. For the last few years I have also trimmed the backs of all the cattle.
While this can sound like a big job it is really very simple to do. I was a bit apprehensive the first year I did it and decided only to do one shed, but after that winter I was really sold on the idea.
It seems to especially benefit the beef animal. The weanlings and the cows don't seem to scratch or lick themselves for the rest of the winter with the addition of the lice spray.
It keeps the finished stock cleaner, and trimming the cows' tails will keep them neater at calving, especially if they have to be handled or when the newborn calf is getting its first drink.
I put great emphasis on the winter dosing as there is little point in feeding expensive silage and meal and having good housing if the stock are not thriving because of a worm or lice problem.
Parasite treatment always pays for itself in the long term.
A Bord Bia quality assurance audit and some soil sampling were other tasks that kept me busy over the last week. I haven't taken soil samples for a number of years so it will be interesting to see the results.
There has been a lot of talk recently about both soil index and lime levels in grassland.
I am confident enough of the grazing ground but the silage fields have been in continuous production for a long number of years so I am a little more concerned about them.
Also, we have up to three different soil types on the farm so there is little point in applying one type of fertilizer to the whole place.
This seems to be the ideal time of year to get the best readings as chemical or organic fertilisers haven't been spread for the last few months.
The quality assurance audit went to plan and there is a significant amount of work, being involved in both the beef and sheep .
There are always points to improve the running of the farm which show up with the audit inspection, and with the poor beef price at the moment, all carcases across the board get paid the QA bonuses if they come from a quality-assured farm.
I see December as a month for looking back at the farming year past before we look ahead to 2019.
It has been a difficult year on all farms. We had lots of issues one after the other, but we have seen it out to the end as best we can, which gives some satisfaction.
But going forward here we will have to look at stocking rates and, given the available labour, to be more realistic about the farm's capabilities.
Another priority this year has been to encourage all of our employees, contractors and professional people working with my farming enterprises to approach the task in hand with a positive and can-do attitude.
So thanks to everyone involved on the farm for another successful year, and a special thanks to all the Farming Independent readers for their feedback.
John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary
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