Heavy rain has put an end to grazing on most farms this week, with the majority of cattle housed on farms since the weekend. I have heard of a lot of cases of pneumonia in autumn born calves in the last two weeks.

Mild weather conditions were at play on some farms where ventilation wasn’t adequate. You need to get the balance right with autumn calves, they need a certain amount of heat and shelter, but you also have to make sure you have appropriate ventilation for them. The biggest issue is eliminating low level draughts in creep areas.

This may involve putting some stock board on gates. I have seen farmers erect a mini roof at the back of a creep pen with plywood and straw to create a microclimate that is warm and sheltered for calves.

Make sure your vaccination programme is up to date. If you have had issues in the past with pneumonia, go in early with the vaccine after housing to make sure you get protection when you need it.

Loads of straw and offering creep feed to calves will also reduce the chances of calves getting sick.

Housing Space

Bull weanlings that are destined for slaughter this winter should be penned based on their final liveweight. Bulls on ad-lib diets will be gaining from 1.3kg to 2kg/day, so over a 120-day feeding period they will have gained 150-250kg of liveweight.

Assuming a group of eight bulls are housed together now at an average of 450kg liveweight and gaining 1.5kg/day for 120 days, there will be an extra 1,440kg of liveweight in the pen by the time they are ready for slaughter – the equivalent of having three extra bulls in the pen at the start of the feeding period.

Space will be limited and animal performance can suffer due to overcrowding. As these bulls get older they will become more aggressive.

Removing bulls for regrouping can result in fighting and injury, which can be a real health and safety issue unless facilities are very good.

The feeding space that should be allowed for finishing bulls, steers and heifers is 2.4m2. On straw this should increase to 5m2 for bulls and 4m2 for finishing steers and heifers.

Draft Sale

Tullamore Farm will hold its annual draft heifer sale on Wednesday 25 October in Central Auctions, Roscrea, Co Tipperary at 8pm. The sale will include 20 in-calf heifers and seven maiden heifers.

All heifers are genotyped 4 or 5 star on the replacement index and are eligible for the SCEP scheme. All heifers are spring 2022-born, with most sired by AI sires like Tomschoice Imperial, Brooklands Marco, HJD, OHD, Norman Inventor, Clonagh Frosty King and Curaheen Earp. Heifers have been bred to calve at two years old in January, February and March 2024 and are in-calf to LM2014, EBY, Brooklands Marco and a Salers stock bull.

All heifers have been scanned with dates for AI and natural service. Eight of the heifers in this year’s sale were bred using sexed female semen, and all are scanned carrying heifer calves. Online bidding is available at the sale via and anyone who wishes to view the heifers before the sale can contact Tullamore Farm manager Shaun Diver on 087 2175486 to arrange a viewing.