BDGP: For BDGP participants who opted for the extended year, the deadline of 31 October 2021 is closing in.

You must have 50% of the reference number of cows in your herd genotyped four- or five-star by this date.

There shouldn’t be as big a demand this year for animals, as herds would have hit this target in October 2020.

There are a number of special BDGP-qualified heifer/cow sales taking place in marts all over the country over the next few weeks.

Farmers who are falling short of this target can login to ICBF on the morning of the sale and see what heifers have been entered in the mart that day under the mart tracker tab.

You can select the mart you are going to and it will list the number of eligible heifers at the sale, including the lot number. Remember, a heifer must be born before 30 June 2020 and be genotyped four or five stars on the replacement index to be eligible for the scheme.

Weight gains for two-year-old calving: Heifer calves that will be kept for breeding should be weighed at regular intervals to check weight gains. To get heifers calving at 24 months of age, the key period to keep them on track for liveweight gain is in the first winter. Separating this group now allows you to give them priority management. The first target is to get the heifer to 60% of mature cow weight by 15 months of age. If the average cow weight is 650kg, then heifers should weigh a minimum of 390kg at breeding. Getting heifers to target breeding weight prevents the animal from becoming stunted and increases the chance of getting heifers back in-calf again. Meeting this target weight is a reasonable expectation. At 15 months, the heifer is 450 days old.

Given that the calf starts with a birth weight of around 40kg, the animal needs to gain around 350kg of liveweight in 450 days, which is daily gain of 0.77kg/day from birth. Take the example of a March-born heifer calf being weaned and housed now at 260kg liveweight – it needs to gain around 0.6kg/day while housed.

Over a 180-day winter and allowing for 30 days with no gain post-weaning, the heifer should weigh 370kg when turned out to grass next spring. This leaves around 50kg of weight gain required from grass before breeding, which should be easily achieved.

Slurry and FYM dates: While the chemical nitrogen application deadline of 15 September has passed, you are still OK to spread slurry and farmyard manure (FYM) so long as ground conditions allow. The last date for spreading slurry is Thursday 14 October. The last date for spreading FYM is 31 October 2021.

Good weather for the last few weeks has meant ground conditions are trafficable. Don’t leave it until the last minute – if the weather breaks at the weekend, ground conditions may not get a chance to improve again. If you have recent soil sample results, take them out and target FYM to fields low in P and K. FYM is a great way to build soil fertility levels.