Fertiliser: You should look at purchasing some fertiliser this week.
Speaking to farmers around the country there haven’t been any huge issues in getting fertiliser except of course the price.
While the price remains very high, it is remaining stable which has avoided any real panic in fertiliser purchases.
That doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait for the price to drop. Markets suggest that we won’t be seeing any huge price reductions for a few months.
You don’t need to source your full fertiliser requirement but you should get enough to spread 23 units of nitrogen on your grazing ground and 80-100 units on your silage fields.
Higher stocked farms may need to source more for a second application on grazing ground in April. Urea is the cheapest form of nitrogen and is preferable to CAN fertiliser.
I have heard of smaller farmers panicking and ordering 1000 litres of green diesel which may do them for over 12 months.
This has put suppliers under pressure and some issues have arisen where deliveries are being restricted to 500 litres in the North West. The advice is not to panic buy as this puts huge pressure on supply chains.
Grazing conditions: With a lot of heavy rain during the week and further bad weather forecast, many cattle that were turned out early have been housed over the last few days. In the south some cows and calves have been housed on farms while weanlings have been left out.
If housing young calves, don’t limit straw usage. It’s critical that calves have a clean dry bed free from any low lying draughts.
Make sure all calves are settled and sucking once housed. Meal should be fed to cows once housed, especially if silage quality is only average.
Feeding 2kg of a weanling or finishing ration will be fine, this will help avoid body condition loss and also help maintain milk yield. If weanlings remain outdoors, try and move them to drier fields with shelter.
Moving into smaller groups may also work and will help to minimise damage. With calving and lambing underway shed space is at premium on many farms, so housing isn’t an option on many farms.
Once weanlings have feed and shelter, they will be fine outdoors. If cows and calves have to remain outdoors, take precautions against tetany.
A bolus or feeding meal with cal-mag are the best forms of prevention. While licks are handy, intakes can be variable and you have no way of knowing how much magnesium is going into cows.
Vaccinations: Cows should receive their annual booster at least two weeks prior to the onset of breeding for both BVD and Lepto.
For bought in animals or maiden heifers that require both courses of a two shot programme, the primary shot should be administered about six weeks prior to breeding, with the booster administered two weeks prior to the start of breeding.
It’s important that the bull receives his booster shot also, and that bought-in bulls are given an initial shot and the booster shot.
Vaccinations should be timed with other management tasks to avoid unnecessary handling of animals.