Buying Weanlings

Before buying weanlings, consider what market you will be selling them into. With higher feed prices, bull finishers need to do the figures on their enterprise for this winter.

Buying U grade weanlings can be difficult without overpaying. Try and keep to a budget, or look to buy “store-like” bulls that can improve in grade if properly managed.

Aim to buy bull calves around 360-400kg liveweight. This leaves a bull needing to gain 300-350kg of liveweight over a 200- to 220-day feeding period (approximately 1.6kg/day).

Once you bring these animals home, put them into a bedded shed and offer 2kg/day of meals to allow them to settle. If ground conditions are good and grass is plentiful, you might get a month of cheap gains at grass.

You should vaccinate calves against respiratory diseases before they join your main herd.

Clip their backs and give a worm and fluke drench six to eight weeks post-housing. Group bulls for feeding based on weight and type. Build to ad-lib meal feeding over a two-week period.

Offer fresh straw or silage as roughage and ensure they have clean drinking water.

Dehorning calves

When dehorning autumn-born calves, best practice is to use an anaesthetic and a painkiller. It is illegal to dehorn calves over two weeks of age without using an anaesthetic.

Removing horns at a younger age is less stressful, but there will be calves that do not show horn buds until they are one month old.

Calves should be securely restrained in a dehorning crate. Make sure the burner is very hot before using it in order to avoid bleeding.

Clip hair to expose the bud properly and apply the dehorner over the bud and twist in a circular motion. Apply Terramycin spray or Aluspray after removing the horn bud.

Lungworm Issues

I have heard of a number of issues with lungworm this week. Animals can die very quickly in severe cases. Watch for any signs of coughing when herding stock.

The classic lungworm stance is the animal with their neck stretched out trying to cough up worms. Make sure the product that you use to dose is active against lungworm.

In severe cases it may be better to go in first with a levamisole drench and then follow up in a few weeks with an ivermectin product.

The levamisole product will give a more gradual kill and will be easier on the animal. Ivermectin-based products will give an instant total kill, which leaves a huge amount of worms to be coughed up over a short time. This increases stress and animals can sometimes become sick very quickly.

Slurry, FYM and Fertiliser deadlines

The deadline for fertiliser application is 14 September. All slurry needs to be spread by 8 October. This is a week earlier than last year. FYM needs to be applied by 31 October.

FYM should be looked upon as an important fertiliser on your farm and should be targeted at fields which are low in P and K. Don’t spread if heavy rain is forecast, as this can lead to runoff problems.