Breeding season

Late calves are hard to make money out of no matter what your system.

In a weanling system selling calves in October, young, light calves are a big drag on the system. While they may make a good price per kg, their light weight pulls back the gross output from that cow in a year.

Keeping a 700kg cow to suck a calf for five to six months doesn’t make a lot of sense when she could be rearing that calf for seven to eight months.

At €2.80/kg and at an average weight gain of 1.1kg/day, a calf born on 1 April v 1 May will be worth €92 more at weanling sales in the autumn.

Based on a 286-day gestation cows bred this week will be calving in the second week of April 2023.

Think about this. Is there an opportunity to pull back your calving spread by a week or two each year until you get back to where you want to be in terms of earlier calving?

By taking out the bull, you may only lose a couple of cows not bred and these can be replaced with earlier calving in-calf heifers.

Cull cows are still a very good trade in the mart, so you could use this as an opportunity to tighten things up a little.

Spraying docks

Fields that were cut for silage four to six weeks ago are now at an ideal stage for spraying for docks.

Leaving them to spray until a seed head is produced will not get an effective kill.

Spraying may check grass a little so take care if grass is in short supply.

Spraying in the morning or late evening and avoiding very sunny conditions will help herbicide uptake. Take care to read the product label and apply the correct rate along with the correct amount of water per hectare.

Make sure you have your sprayer course completed and the sprayer has been tested fit for use.

Slurry safety tips

With slurry on the move next week after silage cutting, it’s important to be vigilant to the dangers around slurry spreading and handling.

Always use outdoor agitation points, where possible, and never enter a shed when slurry is being agitated. Open all doors and outlets to achieve a draft. One lungful of slurry gas can kill.

Let someone know that you are agitating and keep children out of the yard when slurry is being agitated and spread.

Make sure that all tanks are closed after slurry spreading and the yard is left safe.

BDGP reminder

Thursday 30 June is the date that you need to have a genotyped four- or five-star bull in your herd.

The bull must be at least 12 months old on 30 June 2022 and must carry four or five stars with or across breed on either the terminal index or the replacement index.

Bulls that receive a genomic evaluation after 30 June may still be eligible provided they are four- or five-star once the genomic evaluation is published.