Grass supplies

Grass supplies are still tight in some parts of the country but this week’s warmer conditions should help kickstart growth again. Once things get back to normal, try to work to the “grow in three weeks, graze it in three days” rule. This will help maintain quality and make sure you have grass coming on ahead of stock.

Don’t forget about tetany control. A sharp burst of growth could lead to issues so make sure the cows are covered with licks, boluses or in-feed cal-mag.

Make sure you have fertiliser out and avoid topping up silage fields. You are better to cut early and fertilise again for a second cut if you think you will be short of silage.

Bull management

With bulls starting to work hard in spring-calving herds, it’s important to be vigilant for repeats that could signal a change in the bull’s fertility status.

There will be problem cows that don’t hold to first service in any herd but a high number of repeats needs investigation. If in doubt, get the bull fertility tested. Watch out for lameness or injury in bulls and treat early if there are any signs. A lame bull will be sub-fertile and won’t put all cows in calf.

Have a plan in place for if a bull gets hurt. Rotating bulls with different groups of cows can overcome a problem with one bull and there could be merit in having a backup bull in large herds. Safety is number one and always take extreme caution moving bulls or herding where bulls are present, especially later in the season as heat activity decreases.

Under-16-month bulls

While the number of under-16-month bulls has dropped dramatically on farms over the last 12 months, there are still 2,000 to 2,500 being finished weekly. These animals need to be monitored closely for fat cover and weight.

Some large finishers are able to negotiate upper weight limits but most farmer finishers are held to 400-420kg limits with under-16-month bulls.

Prices have improved for finished cattle, especially for these young bulls being killed on the grid. As these bulls come to the end of their finishing phase, performance may drop off and it’s important to move them when ready to kill.

A young bull eating 14kg of concentrates (€270/t) and 1kg of straw (€200/t) will cost €3.98/day to feed excluding fixed costs. If performance is at 1.5kg/day liveweight gain and they put on 1kg carcase/day, at today’s prices a U=3= bull will be leaving €0.42/day at a base price of €4.10/kg. Paid price will be €4.40/kg when you include the grid bonus of €0.18/kg and the €0.12/kg quality assurance payment. Don’t be tempted to push to heavier weights or wait for a price rise. Move them when they are fit.

BPS Deadline

Next Monday 17 May is the final date for submitting your 2021 BPS application. If you are still unsure of some of the land you will be putting on this year’s application, submit your application anyway by Monday’s closing date and you can amend it at a later date. Amendments can be made up to Monday 31 May 2021.