Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 February 2018

The right decisions can help extend the grazing season

The main priority now is to extend the grazing season (Stock photo)
The main priority now is to extend the grazing season (Stock photo)
John Joyce

John Joyce

With loads of good quality grass on the farm, the main priority now is to utilise it as best I can and extend the grazing season. The stock seem to be happy and contented and have been grazing out fields very well.

At this time of the year I tend to graze the wettest fields first in case they get too wet later on, leaving the drier fields near the sheds closer to the housing date for grazing. It is hard to believe that the winter is just around the corner, but making the right grazing decisions now can really extend the grazing season.

I usually place hi mag mineral buckets with the suckler cows to combat grass tetany.

When we get into October I might give out a few bales of haylage in a ring feeder, but I hate doing this as it is hard on the ground conditions.

All the cows are in good condition, so I have no plans to wean any of the calves just yet. I will use the same system as last year in early November to wean the calves. That being to wean them in groups and place the cows and calves in every second pen in the shed. This will get the calves used to their new surroundings while still having the company of their mothers without the milk.

The next batch of cattle that I intend to sell are 10 Limousin cross heifers suitable for breeding.

They are used to being handled and are the offspring of a 5-star bull both within the breed and across the breed. I am going to bring them to Ennis mart on September 29 for a special commercial breeding heifer sale for females with four and five star rating for replacement index. These heifers are surplus to requirements for the farms breeding programme and would usually be fattened for beef. I just think it is a shame to kill them when they are suitable for breeding and are a mix of both four and five star ratings. They will be suitable for autumn calving of 2017.

I probably could breed them myself and sell them and in-calf heifers. Maybe I will try this next year. These sales takes place in Ennis mart once a month and I think that more breeding sales or special sales should be organised across the country for both cattle and sheep.

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Tomorrow, I am planning my annual visited to the Ploughing and will be paying a visit to the Farming Independent stand. I never miss the Ploughing and find it a great way to keep up with what's happening in the agri sector.

One item I might look into this year is energy saving lights for both inside and outside the farm buildings. After two sizeable ESB bills last winter, it might be time to change the lights without comprising on farm safety.

I am looking at using some LED lights that have a low energy requirement and a long-life usage. The last thing you need is to be changing bulbs in the middle of calving or lambing.

On the sheep side of the farm, the ewes have been flushing on good quality after grass and the six rams have been introduced yesterday. The ewes were treated for fluke and a pour-on was applied over the past few weeks so they are in good condition as the rams are being let in.

This will see the lambing starting a week later that other years. I just think the ewes will be lambing a little closure to the grass in the spring time and day light hours will be a little longer.

Lambs are still been sold on a weekly basis and are also on good quality after grass, but at this stage I intend to add some meal into the diet.

Grass is getting watery and the meal should put a good finish on them and increase the kill out.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

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