John Joyce: Late housing date bodes well for our winter fodder outlook

File photo
John Joyce

John Joyce

We have approximately half of the cattle indoors at this stage, with the remaining being housed as they start running out of grass.

One batch of cows is getting round bale silage to help prolong the grass for as long as possible. A few weeks ago we made 81 bales of third cut and this has really boosted the forage supply for this coming winter.

With the relative late housing date, it is now looking good for the supply of forage in storage for the coming winter.

As it stands we have only a handfull of weanlings inside yet and with the stress of housing and the changing of environment for these young animals, I am always mindful of the problems associated with it, mainly pneumonia and viruses.

This year I have come across these problems in a batch of the youngest weanlings still on their mothers outdoors.

It was very disappointing from a management point of view as these calves were dosed during the summer, they were grazing a sheltered field and their mothers have access to good quality round bale silage.

I have never come across this problem in outdoor weanlings. These weanlings were herded daily so I can say it was a shock to find these sick calves isolated from the herd, maybe sheltering in the corner of a field and their mother unsuckled.

While it was only four or five calves, it was still a high percentage of the group in question.

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Most of them didn't show too high of a temperature, but had a heavy pant and were visibly very sick. So far they have pulled out of it with the exception of one that is still very sick. On noticing this, 20ml of Nuflor was administered, with the equivalent given 48 hours later. It is hard to pin-point the cause of the problem and these happen to be a batch of animals that I thought would have been problem-free till housing.

It may just have been the wide variance between day and night time temperatures at the time. A clue may lie with our sheep enterprise as a similar problem occurred with one of the best stock rams and a store lamb ram needing to be treated for pneumonia around the same time.

Another job sorted over the last few weeks was getting the hedges trimmed. It was a job we failed to get done last year with the poor ground condition for travelling on.

The farm itself has a lot of hedgerows and has over the years been trimmed fairly low. This time we have trimmed the sides tight enough, but have let the height at the full reach of the hedge cutting.

It is something similar to something I saw in New Zealand a few years ago where they planted fast-growing trees in long rows to act as shelter belts. Again they have shaped them to be tall and narrow.

My reasoning for this was to create more natural shelter around the farm while still keeping the farm in as tidy a condition as possible.

It wasn't the easiest job for our contractor to do, but in fairness the driver did a great job. With the diverse weather we are having over the farming year it must be a big shock for animals in the spring time to move from the heat of the sheds to the open fields.

Our new build is progressing nicely. The tanks are now backfilled and were covered with the slats last week. The race is now on to have it ready for some part of the winter.

At the moment I have visited a number of sheds to get some new ideas on the finished job. I have already decided to maybe leave out an end wall to create more feed space and also to have more and bigger water troughs in the new shed as well as having it higher than the existing cattle shed to increase ventilation.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

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