Look back over the year: This time of year is often a good chance to look back at your performance and the farm’s performance for the year.
Sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of the things that you got right and a list of the things that, in hindsight, you may have done differently.
Remember, it is only a mistake if you make it twice — it’s a learning experience the first time. Set yourself targets for 2022. What are the key jobs you want to tackle? For example, do you want to reseed a proportion of the farm, improve fences, increase the number of paddocks, tighten the calving interval, weigh animals to monitor performance, improve cow quality or change the stock bull?
While it will likely be an endless list on most farms, it will help if you prioritise one or two things and focus on them over the course of the next 12 months.
Taking a look at cashflow in 2022 will also be important. Fertiliser costs have spiralled and beef farmers will need a lot more cash or access to more credit to purchase fertiliser this spring. Take action early and talk to your bank or financial institution in good time.
Don’t leave it until the last minute. Some farmers will also have to plan without a part of the BPS or ANC cheque in order to pay back BEAM penalties, so 2022 looks like it could be one of the tougher years to deal with.
Scour vaccine: With spring calving just around the corner, some planning and organisation can make things a lot easier.
Calf scour can cause a lot of stress to both man and beast at calving. Where there has been a history of calf scour on the farm, it may be worth considering using a scour vaccine. Cost should also be taken into account, as these vaccines are often close to €10 to €12 per dose. The timing of administration will depend on which product you use.
The three products on the market are all Rotavac Corona. This is a one-shot vaccine that should be administered from 12 to three weeks pre-calving).
January-calving cows can get the vaccine from now on. Bovigen is also a one-shot vaccine. In year one, Trivacton 6 requires a primary shot followed by a booster shot. The primary shot should be administered six weeks pre-calving, with the booster administered four weeks after the primary shot. In subsequent years, these cows will only require a booster shot two to six weeks pre-calving.
It is important to follow the administration guidelines accurately.
Vaccinating the cow prior to calving will allow her to produce antibodies against the main scour-causing bacteria and viruses.
As these antibodies do not pass from the cow to the calf prior to birth, the vaccine will be wasted if the calf does not acquire colostrum from its mother after birth. Ideally, the calf should get about 3l of colostrum within two hours of birth. As the effectiveness of the vaccine will depend on the passive transfer of antibodies from the mother, it is important that this is followed through. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine available for cryptosporidium and clean calving pens and adequate colostrum are absolutely essential for preventing this disease taking over at calving time.