BEEP dung samples and weighing

There are just two weeks left to get your dung samples submitted as part of the 2021 BEEP scheme. Samples must be submitted by 1 October to a Department of Agriculture approved lab for analysis. The lab will notify the Department of Agriculture of the completion of the task. While taking the dung sample will get you the €10/head for the scheme, the important thing is use the results to make decisions around dosing on your farm. It’s unfortunate that given there are 10 samples submitted, there aren’t 10 individual results returned, as some farmers last year took samples from different groups of cattle and expected different results. The 10 samples that you submit will be pooled together for one analysis and you will get one result back. Talk to your vet about the result and what the best plan of action for winter dosing is on your farm. There is also just six weeks left to submit weights under the 2021 BEEP scheme. If you are recording weights online/electronically, the weights must be recorded in the ICBF database by 5:30pm on 1 November 2021. Electronic submission includes the ICBF website, ICBF weight recording app, farm software and any third party applications that link to the ICBF database. If you are submitting weights by post, the forms must be received by ICBF by 5:30pm on 1 November 2021.

Finishing cull cows

Suckler cows that have been scanned and are not in-calf should be marked for culling. Some farmers will opt to sell these cows in the live ring (cows currently making between €1.80-€2.40/kg depending on condition and type), while some will opt to finish them at this year’s prices. Selling is probably the best option on many farms this year, given the prices some agents are willing to pay around the mart ring. Spring calving cows that are not in calf should be weaned early and ideally once the calf is around 250kg liveweight.In general this year, cows are in good body condition with present grazing conditions. Weaning now will mean the cow has a shorter finishing period and this will save money.

Delaying weaning into late autumn runs the risk of cows losing condition and then you will have to feed concentrates to build back up again which will erode any profit margin. Suckler cows are capable of a daily liveweight gain (dlwg) of 0.75kg/day once weaned. A continental suckler cow weaned at condition score 3 should take 50-60 days to finish, while a cow weaned at condition score 2.5 could take 90 days to finish. She will also require housing. With good-quality grass, feeding 5kg/day of rolled barley should be sufficient. If a concentrate mix is being used at €280/t, this will cost up to €1.50/day. Counting in grazing, the daily feed cost for the cow will be around €2.00/day.

Taking a cow beef price of €3.80/kg at a kill out of 52%, at 0.8kg of dlwg, the cow is generating €1.60/day, which will just about cover meal costs. If a cow has to be housed, feed costs will rise to close to €2.50-€2.70/day on silage and meal to continue the same weight gain with the margin questionable.