Ground conditions are getting harder to manage and farmers are beginning to house cattle for winter.

Once cattle are housed and settled, there are a number of management tasks herd owners should look to complete.

Outlined are five jobs to carry out following housing.

1. Scanning spring-calving cows

With cows housed, one of the first jobs to carry out is pregnancy scanning in spring-calving herds. Scanning can be accurately carried out from 35 to 40 days after the end of breeding.

Identifying empty cows by mid-October allows these animals to be offloaded while they are in good flesh. Thinner cows can be weaned early to improve condition and potential sale value.

2. Get silage tested for feed value

The only way to know how good your silage is in terms of feed quality is to get it tested. Smelling silage will tell you nothing about dry matter, energy, protein and DMD.

Knowing the feed quality of silage means winter feed plans can be tailored to potentially save on concentrate use or to increase weight gain in animals destined for sale next spring.

3. Weighing stores and weanlings

Weigh store cattle and weanlings at housing to determine how much weight they gained at grass. Animals can be weighed again in mid-winter to monitor performance.

4. Clipping cattle

Clipping stores and weanlings along the back, neck and head will reduce sweating on days when airflow is limited. This cuts the risk of respiratory problems in cattle.

5. Gradual weaning

Once spring-calving cows and calves are housed and settled, it is a good time to start weaning. Calves can be locked in creep areas or penned beside cows for a week.

This will reduce stress and gradually break the maternal bond between animals. Although it takes longer to carry out, it is a much better option than abrupt weaning.

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