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Thursday 14 December 2017

Reseeding plans on hold as we try to repair damaged ground

It has been our practice in recent years to do some reseeding and, while we had planned to reseed two fields this year, we have pretty much decided to defer those plans until next spring.

This decision was forced upon us for two reasons.

The fields we planned to spray off by this stage for reseeding are just too wet to do anything with at the moment.

I find that if we don't reseed early enough to give the new grass enough time to be grazed off in the autumn, we end up carrying heavy covers of grass on new pastures over the winter, which is not good practice.

I suppose this is one of the disadvantages of not having sheep on the farm.

The only grazing stock we would have at that time of the year would be cows with young calves.

In my opinion, once you get into October, its very hard to graze new pasture with heavy Continental cows without doing a lot of harm.

Another issue that has cropped up this year due to the extremely wet conditions is the damage to some of the pastures that have been reseeded over the last few years.

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I'm inclined to try to repair any damage that has been done rather than do more reseeding.

poaching

A couple of paddocks were badly damaged from cows poaching.

It wasn't too bad the first time they went in to graze the wet paddocks but when they returned in the rotation and their footprints were still full of water, they started to do a lot of harm.

I don't know at this stage whether we will need to look at stitching in some new grass seed.

For the moment, we have cleaned off the worst affected paddocks with the disc mower and spread some fertiliser on them.

I know grass is an extremely resilient plant so we will just wait and see what happens.

For the rest of the year, I think it's probably important to graze these paddocks only when, or if, ground conditions allow.

We have weaned a good few of the calves at this stage.

It is quite a simple process to wean autumn calves.

We just run them into the yard, separate the cows from the calves, let the cows back to the field that they have just come out of, and put the calves out in a fresh field of grass beside them.

graze

I find that if you let the calves out in nice grass at weaning time the first thing they will do is go away and graze and then they lie down for a while.

It's only at this stage they realise the cows are missing and, although there will be some noise for a few hours, it's all over pretty quickly.

We are not in the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme so we don't have to feed any meal at weaning time.

We never give meal to the calves at grass when they are still on the cows. There is one exception to this rule, however.

We have a group of bull calves that we are targeting for live export.

These were identified and grouped together shortly after they were born.

At the moment, this bunch are out on very good after-grass and are getting 2kg of a home-made ration.

This ration includes some chopped straw.

I think is essential for freshly-weaned calves on lush after-grass.

It helps to keep them dry and stop the grass running through them. This group would be the pick of our bull calves and are well-muscled.

Therefore, we will probably build these lads up to an ad-lib ration over the next month or so.

So here we all are hoping that there is a good trade for weanlings.

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

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