Farm Ireland

Friday 27 April 2018

Suckler cows moving to older pastures to rein in their appetite for soft grass

John Joyce

John Joyce

It's that time of year again when I get to do some sort of grass budget for the rest of the grazing season.

I don't properly measure grass, but a quick walk around the farm last weekend told its own story.

There isn't as much grass as there was this time last year for various reasons including more stock on the farm.

I have decided to keep the suckler cows away from any type of soft grass as they are just getting through it too quickly. Next week they will be moved to some older pasture and this will slow them down.

The calves might suffer a little bit because of this. Sometimes it is hard to manage them as one herd at this time of the year without forward grazing or maybe creep feeding.

Over the past two weeks I have had a good look at the beef stock and decided on which animals will be fit and need to be fed before the end of the year.

A few beef bullocks and heifers are getting two kgs of meal at grass and should be finished before housing. I am finding it harder to get them to eat any more at the moment.

The cows that I have earmarked for culling this year have all been getting two kgs of meal on grass for the past month along with their calves.

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It was a handy way to get the calves trained on to the meal as well. These calves are now weaned and the cows are heading to Ashbourne Meats in Roscrea.

These culls have sufficient flesh on them. And while I am disappointed with falling rate for prime beef, the price of cull cows is still reasonably ok and this is why I am moving them.

They have done their job in rearing their calves, but they all have udder problems so this is why they are being culled.

I don't see much point in keeping them any longer especially when they are eating valuable grass.

The stock bull has also been removed from the cows. He has been placed with a cow with twin calves in a small field with good grass.

This should keep him happy and well fed until housing. There was little or no activity in the breeding area for about a month before he was removed so that suggests that the calving will be compact.

I will probably scan in the month of September, but in the meantime will keep an eye out for any bulling activity.

Last month's lungworm dose for the store cattle has really paid for itself with an improved thrive and little or no coughing.

September is always a busy month on the farm here. We will be busy delivering straw to customers in east Galway and Clare.

It is enjoyable to hear from year to year how these people got on with their farming year. Some fare better than others and it's interesting to hear how they dealt with different problems on their farms throughout the year.

I think as farmers we can never visit enough farms as we can learn so much from each other. I also enjoy heading to the Ploughing.

It is great way to catch up with people in the industry, and I am always on the lookout for new ideas or innovations in agriculture.

On the sheep side of the farm, the ewes are being flushed on aftergrass in advance of the breeding season.

They are in good condition and have received a fluke dose and a mineral drench in advance of breeding.

The plan is to introduce the rams on September 15 for a period of seven weeks.

Meanwhile, there are still a lot of lambs left on the farm. I have introduced them to meal in the last few days as from now on grass will have low dry matter content. They are being weighed and sold fortnightly.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

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