Monday 14 October 2019

Teagasc show's a winner

Sheila Fitzgerald

Teagasc Kanturk organised a beef and dairy event last Thursday night at Kanturk Mart. The topic for the night was 'Maximising Farm Performance this Winter', which focused on getting stock to meet their targets over winter, with the aim of delivering a financial return.

There are four key elements to profitability: animal breeding or genetics, and the potential to put on weight for beef or to produce milk for dairy; animal health and the ability to keep weight on or to stay milking well; animal nutrition and ow to put this weight on or produce this milk as efficiently as possible; and price and how much your beef or milk is sold for.  Stephen Connolly from ABP outlined that carcass quality is reducing in beef stock from the dairy herd. 

His research shows that by choosing a beef bull with good carcass traits for dairy cows, it can be worth €150 to €200 per animal at slaughter.  He advised beef farmers to start selecting calves based on genetic merit, not just on how they look at two to three weeks of age.  Eamon O'Flynn from Bluepool Vet Surgery discussed herd health at housing and advised farmers to discuss dosing options and a vaccination plan with their vet.

Pneumonia was the biggest cause of cattle deaths identified by the Regional Veterinary Labs, and he highlighted the importance of assessing shed ventilation for the winter to try and reduce the risk of pneumonia. Karen Dukelow from Teagasc outlined nutritional requirements for cattle, and feed space requirements, which is particularly important if silage has to be restricted.

She advised farmers to complete a fodder budget, test their silage and discuss feeding options with their local adviser. Matthew Sheehan, a local beef farmer from Kilcorney, kindly supplied his heaviest and lightest weanlings on the night and spoke with Ellen Standish (Teagasc) about the importance of weighing them.  His best-performing heifer was gaining 1.5 kg per day, and his lightest was gaining 1 kg per day. 

He finds weighing useful to identify his poorer-performing cows; to ensure that his heifers are at target weights for calving at 24 months; and to know the weights of his stock that are sold off the farm.  He also noticed a change in the Eurostar indexes of his cows since he started weighing; they have increased or decreased accordingly with their calf weights.

Shane Anglim from Bank of Ireland stated that farmers should look at the impact that 2018 had on them in terms of fodder, finance and their own health. He recommended that farmers should engage early with stakeholders such as their bank, accountant and/or local adviser, and he outlined the options that Bank of Ireland have available to help.

As part of the event, Teagasc Kanturk is encouraging beef and dairy farmers to weigh their priority stock over the winter period; once at housing, and once six weeks later to see if they are meeting their targets. If they are not meeting their targets, you can intervene early to solve any issues. To participate in this you will have to be a member of ICBF Herdplus, and the weights will have to be recorded on their system.

You can weigh the stock yourself or through a weighing service.  If you wish to sign up to the Winter Weighing Programme, you can do so by contacting Teagasc Kanturk on 029 50886 before November 23, 2018.

It is open to both Teagasc clients and non-clients.  Anyone who signs up to and completes the weighing programme will be entered into a draw on Friday March 1 for the following prizes: €100 weanling munch voucher kindly donated by Boherbue Co-Op; a €100 co-op voucher which can be spent on any product from Dairygold Co-Op; two €50 vouchers from Kerry Co-Op; and a prize from North Cork Creameries