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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Why this beef farmer might bring his bulls in early for some beefing up

Belgian Blue bull calf born 13/8/2016 pictured in May on Talbot's farm in Ballacolla, Co. Laois.
Belgian Blue bull calf born 13/8/2016 pictured in May on Talbot's farm in Ballacolla, Co. Laois.
Maeve Duffy and her dog Penny enjoy the ringside view at Kilcullen Mart. Photo: Roger Jones.

Robin Talbot

Calving has just started, with the first few calves having arrived safely.

At this stage, all the cows and heifers due to calve by the end of August have got their IBR booster.

They are on a diet of very dry stemmy silage plus a pre-calving mineral, which they are being fed last thing at night, which is now common practice for us.

We sorted out about ten cows that need their feet pared so we hope to get that done this week.

One thing I have noticed, especially with the cows, is that, even though they are obviously very heavy in calf, they seem to be doing a lot of playing and frolicking with one another. Hopefully, it is a sign of good health and nothing else.

We got the results back from our first cut silage and are very happy with them. It analysed 34pc Dry Matter, 82 DMD and 19pc Protein.

We took our second cut of silage a few weeks ago and, no doubt, the quality will be well back on the first cut. Ideally, we would have taken the second cut a week earlier. But I would still expect it to make excellent silage and it bulked up really well.

So we would be happy that we have more than enough silage to see us safely through next winter, whatever it brings.

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We also made 45 bales of silage. This was made from short leafy grass and, hopefully it will be excellent quality because we will use this for the bulls when we bring them in early September to finish them.

I just wonder about the weight gain of our bulls in that real hot weather. They do a lot of lying around and seem contented, I wonder whether they are grazing enough because if they are not taking in enough feed they can't maximise their weight gain.

I am toying with the idea of maybe bringing them in a fortnight earlier.

By leaving it until September to bring them in, it means that the oldest bulls will only be on approximately 90 days feed. While this works fine with the Angus bulls, I think the Belgian Blue bulls would benefit from an extra 30 days feed.

There was a little bit of coughing starting to appear in some of the young stock, so they all got their second treatment of the year for hoose and worms and thankfully the coughing disappeared a few days later. We injected them with Animec at 1ml per 50kg live weight.

Most of the ground that we took the second cut silage off got 2,500 gallons of watery slurry last week.

Grazing area

Any fields that have been grazed will be topped with the disc mower, as soon as we can get to it. So hopefully this will set the farm up nicely to produce some good quality grass for the cows and young calves to graze.

We will blanket spread the entire grazing area with fertiliser between now and the end of August. Depending on the particular fields and their soil sample results, it will either be straight Nitrogen or a compound.

I am reluctant to do it all at the one time because, if I do, by the time we get to graze the last few paddocks, the covers are way too heavy on them and we just don't get the utilisation.

We made 120 round bales of hay last week and, when the field greens up again, we plan to spray it off and re-seed it.

I am wondering what to do with a field that is probably one of our most fertile. There is an excellent crop of grass on it, with a lot of clover but quite a lot of docks are also starting to appear.

So I need to decide whether to spray the docks and hope it doesn't adversely affect the clover or maybe go for a full re-seed next year.

We have cut some of the winter barley. What looked a promising crop the whole year has turned out to be a bit disappointing.

At this stage, it looks like we will struggle to average 3.5 tonnes/acre. That basically means the crop will struggle to break even. The screenings were running at about 12pc with the moisture at 13pc+.

High screenings and low moisture usually add up to loads weighting less than expected and that is exactly what is happening.

To add insult to injury, the weather seems to have taken a turn for the worse.

Robin Talbot farms in partnership with his mother Pam and wife Ann in Ballacolla, Co. Laois.


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