Farm Ireland

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Kildare dairy calf to beef producer details his winter feed management plan

A winter management plan has been drawn up by the Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef team for Joe Farrell's farm in Castledermot, Co Kildare
A winter management plan has been drawn up by the Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef team for Joe Farrell's farm in Castledermot, Co Kildare

Gordon Peppard

Joe Farrell from Castledermot, Co Kildare is one of the participating farmers on the Green Acres Calf to Beef programme. Over the past few months a winter management plan has been drawn up for Joe.

Firstly, silage was analysed to establish the quality of fodder he had.

Concentrate supplementation

Based on an average silage of 72pc DMD, the plan is to feed 1.5kg of concentrates to his weanling animals over the winter housing period to keep them on target to achieve a minimum growth rate of 0.6kg per day.

This will be front-loaded, with stock getting 2kg for the first five weeks, 1.5kg for the next five weeks, and 1kg for the next month; animals will be then to be taken off concentrates for the week to 10 days prior to turn out. These animals will be turned out to grass as early as possible depending on weather next spring with a target of mid-February.

Protein level

The average protein in Joe's silage is 11.3pc; weanling animals will then require an 18pc protein ration to meet the growth requirements of a young animal.


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Following silage analysis for minerals, magnesium, sodium, copper and zinc were found to be particularly low. In conjunction with the feed supplier these will need to be balanced to ensure an adequate of each is supplied to the animal.


Joe's weanling cattle will require between 30-40 litres of fresh water each day, eg a 300kg weanling eating 2pc of body weight will require 6kg of dry matter per day, at 6l per kg dry matter, 36l of water is required. Troughs will be checked every day to ensure they are working and will be cleaned three to four times per week or more often if necessary. All pipes and joints etc were assessed prior to housing.

Pen allocation

Animals were weighed at housing and are penned up according to weight. This minimises the risk of bullying at the feed barrier. Weaker animals can also be targeted with higher feeding levels if required. Weanlings will be housed on slats with 20 in a 36 sq metre pen, giving 1.8sqm per animal.


All animals were given a booster IBR and Bovipast injection four weeks before housing to vaccinate against IBR, viral (RSV, PI3) and pasteurella pneumonia. Good stockmanship will be adhered to throughout the winter to identify any sick animals. These will be removed and treated as required. Having introduced the vaccination programme over the last few years, Joe found a dramatic reduction in the amount of sick animals that he now needs to treat.


All stock will be treated with an Ivermectin based product, two weeks after housing to control stomach worms, hoose and lice. As fluke is generally not a problem on this farm and factory reports from recent heifer's slaughtered show, immature and adult fluke will be taken care of five weeks later with a trodax or flukiver-type product which control immature and adult fluke.

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