Autumn bulls: While the number of young bulls being slaughtered on a weekly basis has fallen dramatically, there were still over 3,000 slaughtered last week.
With autumn-born bulls destined for under-16-month bull beef now on ad-lib feed on many farms, feed management is critical to avoid digestive upsets and acidosis.
Access to fibre in the form of straw or silage is also important.
Make sure these animals have clear access to clean fresh water every day as intakes can drop quickly where water becomes an issue.
At drafting, try to select a pen at a time as mixing will result in fighting and injury. Take care when loading bulls and ensure all gates are secured before loading.
With less demand for young bulls, it’s important to discuss the route to market and weight requirements with your processor. Pay attention to spring-born bulls to make sure they are performing. Weighing in December will give you an idea of where performance is at. It will also give you time to tweak management at this early stage.
Average daily lifetime needs to be heading towards 1.4kg for a bull to hit 700kg at under 16 months.
If performance drops during winter you won’t have time to make up the lost weight before the bull hits 16 months.
First-calver nutrition and health: Pay attention to first-calving heifers and their body condition score in the shed.
This is especially important for autumn-calving heifers suckling calves. Heifers can lose condition quickly and this will result in delayed resumption of cycling and poor conception rates.
If silage quality is poor, first-calved heifers should be getting 2-3kg/day of a good-quality ration, high in energy.
If you can separate these heifers out into a pen on their own, it will make meal feeding easier and prevent bullying.
Make sure you are on top of worm and fluke control with this group, as any stress or burden will result in body condition loss. It’s especially critical where you are calving at two years old.
On Tullamore Farm, in-calf heifers that calved for the first time in 2021 have been separated out along with a number of thinner dry cows. These are being fed 71DMD first-cut silage and have a little more space in the pens to allow them gain some condition over the winter. Heifers calving at two years old will continue to grow through their third and fourth year so it’s important their diet isn’t restricted.
Webinar series: The second webinar in our Winter Cattle Series in association with AXA Insurance takes place on Thursday 2 December at 8pm. It will cover animal health issues including fluke and worm dosing, vaccinations, shed ventilation, and lying and feeding space requirements.
Tullamore Farm vet Donal Lynch will go through winter health plans and answer any animal health queries you may have. Check out more on www.farmersjournal.ie/webinar. If you have questions you would like answered on the night, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp your questions to 086-836 6465. Questions can also be asked live on the night via Irish Farmers Journal social media channels.