I'm finally housing stock with winter on way
A ll my stock have been housed over the past few weeks with the exception of nine 18-month-old bullocks and three cows with their June-born calves.
The young bulls were housed first about three weeks ago and probably should have been housed sooner, but it was hard to convince myself to put them into a shed when the weather was so good and the long winter of last year was still fresh in my mind.
The bulls, in fairness, behaved themselves reasonably well over the summer, but in the end, they started to run amok despite the electric fences. From now on, it will be concrete and steel barriers for them.
All cattle, except the suckler cows, are on a simple barley beef ration including 50pc barley, maize gluten, soya hulls and citrus pulp and minerals. It consists of 13pc protein and is costing €250/t collected in bulk.
The suckler cows were scanned before being weaned and four showed up empty. This might sound good, but the stock bull was left with the cows for an extra few weeks this year. Looking at the calving dates, they show that a number of cows only went in calf before the bull was withdrawn and most of the cows have slipped back a week or two. This may be a knock-on effect of the cold spring and poor grass growth.
The four empty cows are now penned with the beef heifers and will be intensely fed until the end of January before being sold. I think scanning suckler cows definitely pays as it takes so much guesswork out of the equation and means I could make a decision now to fatten and cull those cows without wasting time and effort on them.
All the suckler cows were weaned on housing except for the aforementioned three dams with young calves. For years on the farm, we practised abrupt weaning of the calves. As we operate in two farmyards, what usually happened was when the first wet week arrived in October, cows and calves were rounded up and split into two groups. The cows would be housed on the home farm and the weanlings would travel to the out-farm housing.