With thoughts now turning to slurry spreading, there are a few points to note. If agitating tanks, wait for a windy day to disperse slurry gas and never enter a shed when agitating is taking place.
Agitate when there is another person around the yard or alert someone that you are completing the job.
Remove all animals from sheds before agitating tanks. Try and spread slurry on paddocks that are low in P and K, and silage fields, as these generally have the lowest P and K values on the farm.
The spreading period opens on 13 January in Zone A, 16 January in Zone B and 1 February in Zone C. Farmyard manure and chemical fertiliser is also included in these dates.
You cannot spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure, soiled water or other organic fertilisers when: the land is waterlogged, the land is flooded, or it is likely to flood or if the land is frozen, or covered with snow. You must not spread slurry if heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours.
You cannot spread organic fertilisers or soiled water from a road or passageway, even if it is on your own holding. With some farms under pressure for storage, the temptation is to spread a few loads to relieve pressure. Avoid this at all costs and look to transfer slurry to another tank until spreading season opens.
As treatments will only kill hatched lice, if cattle were treated at housing and a large proportion of lice eggs were present, a second treatment will be necessary.
Some products will also have a residual activity of just 5-6 weeks, so second treatments may be needed where product was applied two months ago. There are two types of lice that affect cattle: biting and suckling lice.
Mange mites may also be an issue. Not all products that will kill suckling lice will kill biting lice. Pyrethroids and externally applied endectocides are the only two active ingredients that will kill both biting and suckling lice, and mange mites.
Signs of lice activity are cattle scratching and/or licking, poor coats, excess hair loss and in some cases anaemia. Clipping cattle along the back and neck will also help to reduce lice activity.
Remember to treat the whole shed if going in with a treatment. Treating a pen or two won’t make any difference as lice will spread from pen to pen.
Weighing is the only foolproof way of knowing whether weanlings are gaining weight or not. A lot of farmers will have weighed for BEEP in autumn, so it would be an interesting exercise to see what weight has been gained since then.
A minimum of 0.7kg/day should have been gained over the winter period.
If weight gain is below this, check the diet, parasite burden, lying space, ventilation and feeding space for any potential issues.
Spring born bulls destined for under 16 month bull beef shouldn’t dip under 1kg/liveweight gain/day at any point during their life and should be hitting 1.3-1.4kg/day over their lifetime. These animals should be stepping up to higher concentrates at this stage on most farms.
With less concentrates being fed on beef farms this winter, it’s important that animal performance doesn’t suffer.