Weather conditions: Wet weather has disrupted lots of early grazing plans.

This week’s focus is on fertilisers and we have gone into detail on grazing plans and fertiliser applications on beef farms.

If you can split your farm into three, the first third will be the heavy covers, these are better grazed first before any slurry or fertiliser is applied. That means these heavy covers should be grazed first when you get stock out.

The next third of the farm should have medium covers and these fields are ideal for trailing shoe slurry or fertiliser. Aim to go with half a bag urea/acre once soil temperatures consistently hit 5-6°C over a few days. The final third are low covers which are ideal for slurry.

Delayed turnout: Delayed turnout is applying pressure on some farms, especially in the south, where farmers are used to getting stock out to graze in the second half of February. Many of these farms use the empty sheds weanlings have vacated as an overflow shed during the busy calving period.

Turnout has also been delayed on Tullamore Farm. Farm manager Shaun Diver has bedded the centre passage of a slatted shed to act as temporary creep area until cows and calves can be turned out. It’s not ideal but it does the job well.

Straw is scarce on some farms. It’s also getting expensive, especially in the west where quoted prices have moved to €30 and over for 4x4 round bales. While straw might be expensive, an outbreak of cryptospirosis or joint ill will be a lot more expensive when you have them treated.

So the advice is not to skimp on straw, especially when sheds are full because of delayed turnout. Make sure to herd stock daily, especially where young calves move out to larger pens at younger ages. Be sure they are getting up and stretching and keep an eye on navels for any infections.

BDGP letters: Participants in the 2021 BDGP received letters last week outlining the animals the ICBF has selected in their herds for genotyping this year. The requirements of the scheme are the same as in 2020, with 60% of the reference number of animals having to be genotyped in 2021.

If you are not happy with the selection, there is an option in your online herdplus account to delay sending out genotype tags until you have more calves on the ground in 2021. Remember though that these calves won’t be old enough to count as four- or five-star genotyped females on 31 October 2021.

BEEP-S 2021: While the scheme hasn’t opened yet, it’s expected to in the next few weeks. I have received queries from farmers with autumn-calving herds in relation to weighing calves for BEEP. Some farmers are starting to wean August-born calves before turnout and they are not sure what to do in relation to weights. The advice is to weigh the cow and calf before weaning and store the weights somewhere safe so they can be inputted once the scheme opens and you apply for the 2021 scheme. It’s very important that these weights are taken on farm. Mart weights will not suffice.