Grazing Brassicas: With very wet conditions over the last seven to 10 days all across the country, grazing kale and other forage crops has become difficult. Make sure animals have a dry lie. Also, take care that the soil doesn’t become liquefiable at gaps or around a round feeder. If this happens and you get a cross-compliance inspection, you will incur a penalty on your Basic Payment. Cattle can become unsettled quickly if hungry, so make sure enough of the crop is being allocated daily. Ensure the electric fence has good current. Some farmers switch off the rest of the farm, meaning all the current goes to the forage crop area. Others put up a second fence, so if animals break through the first, they still don’t damage the rest of the crop. Animals need a fibre source in the form of hay or silage when grazing these crops. No meal is required for stock grazing forage crops. Brassica crops are deficient in minerals, especially iodine, selenium, copper and cobalt. Make sure all animals have received a mineral bolus when grazing brassicas. Keep a close eye on stock to make sure they are feeding OK. Older cows can sometimes struggle and it’s best to house them if they are losing a lot of body condition on the crop.
Body Condition Score: Keep an eye on body condition score of suckler cows. If silage quality is poor, there is a risk that body condition could drop off. Take a walk through your cows and look at the condition of them. They need to be around a 2.5 at calving. A score of 1 is very thin, while a score of 5 is very fat. Calving with too much condition or calving thin cows will lead to problems. Addressing these issues a few months from calving will lead to better results. Can you separate out thin cows or first-calving heifers for some preferential treatment and then restrict the rest of the herd if they are over fleshed? A good-quality dry cow mineral should be fed six to eight weeks prior to calving. Scour vaccines should also be given at the latest a minimum of two to three weeks prior to calving.