Fly activity: Watch out for cases of summer mastitis over the coming weeks.

If the problem is detected early and if treatment is given in time it can be treated quite successfully, but it can be easily missed as these stock groups often do not get the same attention as spring cows or growing cattle.

Summer mastitis is less common in spring-calving cows as the calf is sucking the cow regularly but can occur in late-calving cows where calves are unable to suck all four quarters. Particularly high-risk areas are those with trees, close to water or that have plenty of shelter from hedges, as this will attract flies.

Prevention is better than cure. A pour-on insecticide can help prevent the problem, but the cover period varies with different products. As the peak risk period is normally in late July and August, cows may need a second treatment. Applying tar can work, but is less practical as it needs to be reapplied every three to four days.

Cows with summer mastitis will have a swollen udder and flies around the teat. The swollen udder causes discomfort, which results in stiffness and lameness when walking. Cows generally develop a temperature, become isolated and dull in appearance. When drawing a quarter, the characteristic thick, clotted secretion is present. If an antibiotic tube is used to treat an infected quarter, make sure you clean the teat and use a glove. Good hygiene is vital to prevent further infection.

Grass quality: Grazing fields are heading out on many farms and grass has become stemmy. This grass has a lower feeding value. It will just keep animals full and they won’t put on weight. Topping will be necessary to get these fields back into quality grazing. Make sure to cut low enough. Topping too high will only increase the amount of stem in the sward and serve no purpose. Spreading nitrogen will help maintain leaf in the sward. If grass is getting ahead of stock, close up more ground for silage.

Spraying docks: Fields cut for silage four to five weeks ago are at an ideal stage for spraying for docks. Leaving them to spray until a seed head is produced will not get an effective kill. Spraying may check grass a little so take care if it is in short supply. Spray in the morning or late evening and avoid very sunny conditions to help herbicide uptake. Read the product label and apply the correct rate/ha. Make sure your sprayer course has been completed and the sprayer has been tested.

BDGP samples: Outstanding hair sample kits or tags on farm should be returned to make sure there are no delays in processing the 2021 BDGP payment. New orders can be placed via your HerdPlus account on Alternatively, hair card orders can be processed over the phone. The next evaluation run is on 28 September and the deadline for the return of samples to be included in this run was 7 July. However, samples returned by the end of this week may still have a chance of being included in the next run.