With good weather forecast, many drystock farmers will be looking at fertiliser applications on grazing ground. It’s been a slow start, with ground conditions still very wet on farms. Fertiliser should be ready to go at this stage, as the weather window for spreading can be very tight.

We shouldn’t forget about P and K, especially in the spring months. The 2022 Teagasc soils report showed that 57% of soils on drystock farms are deficient in phosphorus (P) while 47% are deficient in potassium (K).

Just 57% of soils on drystock farms have a pH greater than 6.2. If your soils are deficient in P and K, it’s best to spread a compound fertiliser to try and build your soil fertility. In terms of P and K, 1,000 gallons/slurry/acre is the equivalent of a bag of 0:7:30/acre.

With nitrogen, aim to frontload your applications to springtime and May, when the grass plant will be at its most efficient in terms of converting nitrogen to grass.

On a drystock farm stocked at 1.8 LU/Ha you should be aiming to spread around 80-100 units/N/acre annually, split across 40/units/N/acre in March/April, 20 units/acre in May, 10-20 units in June/July and 10-20 units in August/September.

Getting silage fertiliser spread as soon as possible should also be top priority.

Synchronizing heifers

The use of synchronisation on heifers means you could calve most of your heifers at the beginning of the calving season in 2024. On farms where AI is not used it also means you can select different bulls for different heifers with a focus on reduced calving difficulty.

The programme below is an eight day programme with four visits to the crush. It eliminates the need for heat detection and high conception rates are achievable if completed correctly. Remember that it will not overcome poor management, and all heifers need to be at 60% of their mature weight, cycling, and on a suitable plain of nutrition.

Make sure your AI technician is available and that the vet has all the products you need. The P4 device can be a PRID or CIDR. GnRH products include Receptal, Overelin, Acegon or Busol. PG products include Estrumate, Lutalyse and Enzaprost.

Products containing the above hormones must be prescribed by your vet. All repeats will occur between 18-24 days.

If two or more repeats are expected per stock bull per day, remove the bull on day 16 and AI for a week to take the pressure off the stock bull. The protocol will cost around €40/heifer before AI costs so it’s important that it’s done right to get the maximum success.