Calves and yearlings thriving in the sun

John Joyce

John Joyce

During the recent spell of good weather, half of the first-cut silage was harvested in great conditions. Quality and yield can only be described as excellent, with most farmers who have cut silage in the last two weeks reporting similar results.

It is difficult to achieve both as when you aim for yield, quality can be adversely affected.

The grass was cut after midday and left to wilt for 24 hours, so it should preserve very well as it was not affected by rainwater or soil contamination.

The second half of the first cut was closed late due to the bad growing conditions in the spring. It is now jumping out of the ground and should be ready to cut in a fortnight.

Glen, the new Limousin stock bull, is being kept busy with the cows. The cows are being observed twice a day for a number of reasons. Firstly, cows noticed in heat are recorded; these dates will help at scanning time to closer determine calving dates.

Secondly, as the bull is new I am interested in seeing if there are many repeats, which could point to a fertility problem. At the moment only two repeats have been recorded, so I don't think there is anything to get alarmed about.

Thirdly, it will give a rough idea of submission rates. The plan is to keep the cows on a good plain of nutrition (good leafy grass) in the hope that later-calved cows will start to cycle quicker.

The calves and yearlings are thriving and are happy to lay out in the sun as opposed to last year, which saw them sheltering under hedges for most of the summer.

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The calves are due their first dose soon. Last year, I purchased a hook-handle dosing gun and found it easy to work and safe for both man and animal.

All cattle responded well to the winter and summer dosing programme last year, so I have decided to stick with oral dosing as opposed to injectables or pour-ons.

Grass is getting a little tight on the grazing platform, and this situation will continue until the silage area returns into the rotation. The silage stubble and grazing area received a bag of sulpha/CAN last Friday week – just before the rain.

No topping was done after the first grazing but it has now been called into action, albeit for tidying up the fields. The cattle are doing a good job in terms of grass utilisation, which is hardly surprising given the excellent grazing conditions,

Also, their behaviour seems to be better this year than last.

Last Thursday, I attended a discussion group meeting as part of the BTAP programme. We discussed grassland management and an animal health plan for each farm.

Now in its second year, the group is getting more involved in members' problems and we generally help each other out with advice.

Personally, I prefer this type of approach to farmers competing with each other and broadcasting how good their enterprises are doing.

I have picked completing a profit monitor and scanning the cows as the two tasks for this week.

Other jobs for this week on the farm include hosting a Sheep Technology Adoption Programme (STAP) discussion group, spraying fungicide on the barley for the final time and general maintenance on fences around the farm.

On the Macra side, I welcome the new developments in the CAP talks as farmers can start planning for the next seven years. Hopefully, the full detail of the package will become available in the near future.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary and is agricultural affairs chairman with Macra na Feirme. Email:

Irish Independent

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