Body condition score: Keep an eye on body condition score of suckler cows. If silage quality is poor there is a risk that body condition could drop off.

Take a walk through your cows and look at the condition of them. They need to be around a 2.5 at calving. A score of 1 is very thin, while a score of 5 is very fat.

Calving with too much condition or calving thin cows will lead to problems.

Addressing these issues a few months from calving will lead to better results.

Can you separate out thin cows or first-calving heifers for some preferential treatment and then restrict the rest of the herd if they are over fleshed?

On Tullamore Farm, most cows are being fed 68 DMD silage, with first-calving cows and thin cows on 72 DMD silage. Cows will be sorted again in early January according to calving date and condition. The first batch of cows calving in February will also receive their scour vaccine.

Coccidiosis: Coccidiosis can become an issue in autumn-calving herds. Inadequate bedding can be a cause.

Calves ingesting faecal material will aid the spread of this parasite.

Faecal samples can be taken to determine level of infection but veterinary advice is that if you have one confirmed case in a group of calves, you are better to treat the whole bunch as the chances are the rest have been infected.

Cleaning out sheds regularly during the winter, adequate bedding, good hygiene and keeping feed troughs off the ground will help to reduce disease spread. Regular checking and cleaning of drinkers will also help prevent the spread of disease.

Break/family time: Don’t forget to take a break over Christmas. On many beef farms workload can be kept to a minimum over the next seven to 10 days with just daily herding tasks and feeding animals carried out.

Spend some time with family and take time away from the farm for walks and clearing the head. This can help solve problems when you come back, taking a fresh look at things.

With spring calving and lambing only a few weeks away, it’s important to recharge the batteries.

Happy Christmas: I want to wish all our readers a happy and healthy Christmas and the good luck to make 2022 a successful and prosperous year on your farms.

It has been another tough year for everybody but hopefully 2022 will bring some much needed normality back to our lives.

We are in the early stages of planning two national beef events in summer 2022, one on Tullamore Farm in July and one on our Thrive dairy calf to beef demonstration farm in Cashel in August.

We are also finalising an exciting lineup of spring webinars staring at the end of January and running every two weeks during spring.

I’d like to thank all the people who emailed me and contacted me with questions, queries, agreements and disagreements over the last 12 months and if anyone has comments or views on what the livestock team cover on our pages, you can contact me at