Second-cut silage fertiliser

First-cut silage yields have been variable.

On some farms that were delayed in cutting, there have been some very heavy crops ensiled which could eliminate the need for a second cut.

On other farms where cuts were completed earlier, some have bulked up small, so the second cut will be an important addition to winter feed supplies.

If you are targeting a 6t/acre crop of grass for your second cut (most crops will yield 4-8t/acre) you will need about 60 units of N, 10 units of P and 50 units of K per acre. Spreading 2,000 gallons of slurry/acre if you have it will supply the P and K requirements which means you will need 1.5 bags of protected urea/acre or two bags of CAN/acre to meet the crop’s demand.

Maximise cattle slurry application at this time of the year so that slurry tanks are emptied before next winter. Cattle slurry applied by splash plate in June will have a lower N value compared to low emission application techniques. See Table 1 below for N values.

Breeding season

Late calves are hard to make money out of no matter what your system. In a weanling system selling calves in October, young light calves are a big drag. While they may make a good price per kg, their light weight pulls back the gross output from that cow in a year.

Keeping a 700kg cow to suck a calf for five to six months doesn’t make a lot of sense when she could be rearing that calf for seven to eight months. At €2.50/kg and at an average weight gain of 1.1kg/day, a calf born on 1 April v 1 May will be worth €77 more at weanling sales in the autumn.

Based on a 286-day gestation, cows bred this week will be calving in the first week of April 2022. Think about this. Is there an opportunity to pull back your calving spread by a week or two each year until you get back to where you want to be in terms of earlier calving? By taking out the bull, you may only lose a couple of cows not bred and these can be replaced with earlier-calving in-calf heifers. Cull cows are an exceptional trade in the mart so you could use this as an opportunity to tighten things up a little.

BDGP reminder

Wednesday 30 June is the date you need to have a genotyped four- or five-star bull in your herd. The bull must be at least 12 months old on 30 June 2021. The bull must carry four or five stars with or across breed on either the terminal index or the replacement index. Bulls that receive a genomic evaluation after 30 June may still be eligible provided they are four- or five-star once the genomic evaluation is published. The November 2021 evaluation is the last one where they can qualify.