Calf creep hygiene

On farms with autumn-calving herds, calves will now be needing access to creep areas in sheds. This allows the calf to get away from the rough and tumble within the pen of cows while providing the opportunity to give the calf access to creep feed and a nice dry lie.

Every year there will be one or two calves that are slow to move out to the creep area and will insist on lying on the slats. It is worth the effort of going into the pen and putting these calves out to the creep area for a few days until they get in on the routine. Only do so if it does not put your own safety at risk and be aware of over-protective mothers.

If a number of calves are not going into the creep area there may be an issue with it. Is the access point easy for calves to find and then enter through? Is there sufficient room for the number of calves that are to use it? Is the creep area well-bedded and draught-free? Feeding concentrates in the creep area is a good way of coaxing stock out to use it.

Keep the area as clean as possible as scour can become an issue if it is not kept adequately bedded. You should be able to kneel down for 30 seconds on the straw bed and stand up without getting a wet patch on your knees.

Finishing stock

The cost of feeding finishing stock indoors has never been greater than this winter. Depending on the type of stock you are dealing with, their weight and/or level of finish, the economics of continuing to feed the animal will change.

A 600kg animal being fed 5kg concentrate will eat around 30kg of silage if offered ad libitum. At a concentrate cost of €420/t and a silage cost of €50/t this equates to a daily feed cost of €3.60/day.

At a beef price of €4.90/kg for bullocks (including an in-spec bonus of 20c/kg), this means the animal needs to be gaining 0.75kg of carcase weight every day.

A finishing animal will be diverting around 70% of liveweight to carcase weight towards the end of the finishing period and so a daily liveweight gain of 1.1kg/day is required just to break even on feed costs alone. Where stock are not performing in excess of this level and they have a sufficient level of finish that they will meet carcase specifications (fat score of 2+ to 4=), the best thing to do may be to draft them for slaughter.

Where you are not confident in drafting stock for slaughter, contact your factory procurement team, factory agent or perhaps the mart may be a good option for selling stock.

Animal Health question

We continue to look for readers to send in their animal health-related questions and we will get a vet to answer them and publish the answers on a special animal health page over the next few weeks.

We would welcome questions from all livestock systems, dairy, beef, sheep and anything else that readers have animal health questions on.

You can email your questions to or WhatsApp them to 086-836 6465.