Over the Christmas period, don’t neglect the chance to take a break from the farm.

This will help to clear the head and recharge the batteries ahead of a busy spring period.

Outlined are five tips to help get all essential tasks completed to free up more time to spend with the family over the Christmas period.

Double up on silage feeding

During the holiday period, double up on feeding by filling the passageway with an extra day's silage allowance.

This will cut down the day-to-day work routine.

Cattle still need to be checked daily, but by doubling up on fodder, it is only a matter of pushing in the silage in the morning, thereby saving time.

If a feed wagon is used, on the days that cows are fed, refill the wagon as soon as it is emptied. This means the wagon is ready to go when required.

Bedding cattle

The same applies with straw bedding. Double up on bedding by spreading an extra bale in cattle pens as necessary.

Feeding cattle high-dry matter forage with a greater fibre content for a few days over Christmas will slow down the rate of soiling in pens.

Fill meal buckets in advance

Where meal is being fed to store and finishing cattle, pre-fill as many buckets or bags as possible.

Store these bags in a dry place, safe from birds and vermin. Having meal pre-filled will save time feeding cattle every day.

Plan out what jobs are essential

Take the time to jot down which jobs are essential and which jobs can be delayed for a week.

The non-essential tasks should not get priority over essential tasks, such as feeding and bedding.

Good time management is key to getting things done and getting a break from the farm.

Work out a family rota

Once you know what tasks are essential, discuss these tasks with family members to spread the workload.

With children on school holidays, there will be additional help for key tasks.

If there are big jobs to complete, such as fluke drenching, complete these jobs when the extra help is available to move and sort cattle.

The alternative is to designate one family member with the responsibility for certain tasks, for example one person looks after silage, one person looks after meal feeding and someone looks after tasks such as bedding.

Finally, on behalf of the Irish Farmers Journal livestock team, I would like to wish all readers a merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous new year.