The relatively dry weather over the past week has allowed farmers on dry land to continue on target with their autumn rotation planner. Those in the west or northwest have had difficulty keeping with the planner in recent weeks. While the current dry spell is offering some respite, the majority of farmers have not been able to get cows back out to grass.

Autumn-calved cows are the priority group to get out and keep out where possible.

With the current dry weather, farmers on heavy land that have heavy grass covers on some paddocks should prioritise light stock, weanlings or sheep to graze off these fields, as heavy covers will deteriorate over the winter, reducing grass quality in early spring.

The earlier these covers can be grazed off the more high DMD grass will be available for grazing next spring.

Weanlings are still out at grass in several areas. On drier farms some beef cattle are still being supplemented with meal at grass and will be slaughtered off grass in the coming weeks.

In most cases farmers on dry ground have 60-70% of the farm closed, with the remainder to be closed in the coming weeks. On heavy farms the target is to have the entire farm closed by early to mid-November if not already closed.

Where cattle are housed, they should be watched closesly for any early signs of pneumonia. Make sure that air flow through sheds is adequate, but also ensure that there are no draughts.

  • Housing continuing across farms.
  • Most cows housed in the west.
  • Some heifers being finished off grass in the coming week.
  • Housing being carried out on dry days.
  • Dry farms following autumn rotation planner.
  • Heavy farms prioritising eating off heavy covers.
  • Tommy Holmes

    Co Mayo

    System suckler to steer beef

    Soil type variable

    The weather is unnaturally mild for this time of year. Unfortunately, it is too little too late as I’ve housed all my stock bar a handful of bull weanlings. Accommodation is tight but I’ve cattle coming fit for slaughter so this will free up a couple of pens. I’m keeping a very close eye on cattle indoors as this type of weather is sure to bring pneumonia but I have good ventilation in sheds and I’m leaving the doors open at night.

    Luckily, I managed to get 10 loads of slurry out prior to the slurry application deadline which should see me out of trouble. I used the dribble bar for the first time and I would highly recommend this system for anyone thinking of changing away from the conventional splash-plate method.

    Calving has gone well thus far with no casualties to report. I’m very much in the transition stage as I hope to compact my calving spread while increasing numbers with a view to calving everything in autumn.

    Cathal Breen

    Co Wexford

    System suckler to steer beef

    Soil type heavy clay

    The recent spell of good weather has improved ground conditions and as a result stock are getting good utilisation out of paddocks. There is over 60% of the farm closed at this stage and some covers are starting to come back well.

    Farmyard manure was spread on low-index paddocks over the last few weeks. I have over half of my calves weaned at this stage and the remainder of them will be weaned over the next few weeks.

    Cows with calves left sucking are being used to clean out paddocks after a group of my dairy-bred calves.

    Cows are being supplemented with high mag buckets and they also have access to hay as a precaution against grass tetany. All 2016-born steers are now housed at this stage and they are spilt in two different groups for meal feeding.

    I also have a group of heifers which will be housed shortly and they will be slaughtered in the next few weeks. Scanning was completed last week and it has gone very well, with only two empty cows.

    Stanley farm

    Co Tipperary

    System Suckler to beef

    Soil type variable

    We have housed most of our stock by now. Only a few heifers close to finishing remain outside on meal and these will be killed soon off grass. We are weighing stock next week and will categorise the forward stores depending on weight. Anything over 500kg will be finished inside over the winter while the remainder will be stored and killed off grass next summer. We purchased 63 autumn calves this year and will begin weaning them soon. I plan to turn them out to grass in December or January and will feed 1kg of ration also. Given the fact these calves are light they will be ideal to graze off recent reseeds without doing any damage. The majority of the farm is closed up since 20 October and our reseed has progressed well in the mild autumn.

    Autumn calving has finished and breeding will start soon. I am looking at the option of using AI on these cows for the first time. It will allow me to be more selective on my sire choice and will allow me to use some more maternal genetics on my herd.

    Ger O’Dwyer

    Tullamore Farm

    System suckler to steer beef

    Soil type variable

    Grass has continued to grow, albeit at a lower rate over the past seven days. The farm grew 21kg DM/ha over the past week. Demand has dropped to 12kg DM/ha. Farm cover is running at 610kg DM/ha.

    There is currently 63% (50.6ha) of the farm closed and paddocks closed in early October have covers of 1,000-1,200kg/DM at the moment. The plan is to have all cattle housed by 22 November.

    The weanling bulls were housed on Friday 27 October and are being fed 3kg of a 16% protein nut that was being fed at grass. They will move on to a barley, soya hulls, maize meal and soya bean meal mix in the next week.

    They are also being fed the highest-quality silage at 78DMD. Dung has been quite loose since housing so we are feeding some hay to settle them down.

    Fifty-one cows started to graze kale on Friday also. Their tails were clipped and each cow received two mineral boluses. They have access to silage bales as they graze the kale.

    The dry few days has helped settle them into grazing and they seem very happy on it.

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