As September draws to a close, autumn is well and truly here. `
The grazing season is now down to the final few weeks and farmers will see the workload ramping up in preparation for housing.
While there is a multitude of management tasks every autumn, outlined are five jobs to make top priority during the next month.
Take every opportunity to get slurry tanks emptied before the closed period comes into play on 15 October.
Most farmers have access to a slurry tanker. Even if it is just getting three to four loads out on grazed paddocks as soon as cattle are moved to new grass, this is a better option than leaving slurry until a few days before the closed period starts.
2. Scanning spring-calving cows
Spring-calving cows should be scanned early to identify any animals not in-calf. These cows should then be separated from the main herd.
Empty cows can be sold live off grass straight away or put in a separate paddock and fed for a short period to build body condition. This will improve their sale value as they are weaned.
3. Silage analysis
Given the rise in ration prices, this is the winter to get silage analysed for feed value. Knowing how good silage is means you can tailor winter feed plans accordingly.
With silage quality at 72 DMD or higher, store cattle and weanlings going back to grass next spring can get away with a forage-only diet over winter.
Whereas with moderate-quality silage or below-average fodder, concentrate feeding will be required to maintain weight gain in stores over winter.
4. Closing off ground for spring turnout
Begin closing up paddocks for spring grazing from early October, as cattle work their way around the next rotation. Target older swards and paddocks with heavy soils for closing up first.
5. Creep feeding for weaning preparation
Creep feeding is likely to be already under way on suckler farms. But if it isn’t, then start offering calves concentrate from this weekend. This will prepare calves for weaning and housing.
If calves are already eating a creep ration, then increase feed rates by 0.5kg to 1kg/head as grass supplies start to tail off.
Cap heifers at 2kg/day and bull calves at 3kg/day.