Fodder budget

Fodder should be on the mind of all drystock farmers, and you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Recognising that there is a deficit of fodder on farm now as opposed to mid-winter will allow for a plan to be put in place that will ensure there is sufficient fodder for the stock on farm.

Suckler cows will need approximately 1.4 tonnes silage/month, with store cattle requiring 1.1-1.3 tonnes/month, depending on the level of meal feeding. Weanlings will require approximately 0.7 tonnes/month.

Where silage stocks are low on farm, there are several options available.

If stocking rates allow, some ground can be fertilised to take a second/third cut or a late first cut to bolster supplies.

If grass is tight on farms, sourcing additional fodder from outside the farm may be a better option, and securing this now as opposed to when stock are being fed ensures that the feed is readily available.

Another option is to increase meal feeding levels in finishing stock. Doing this will reduce demand on fodder and should shorten the finishing period.

Where cattle are traditionally kept over the winter months and finished, those tight on fodder might be better to sell stock live as opposed to buying in extra fodder (cull cows, for example).

Weigh up the options for your own farm depending on your needs and enterprise, but plan early as opposed to leaving things to chance.


Those who commenced breeding on 1 May will now have 10 weeks complete. At this stage, any cow that has not cycled or has repeated several times is in danger of falling out of the herd. These cows are now going to be late calvers, but whether you wish to keep them in the herd and possibly end up calving them in May is your choice.

If you do intend on breeding these, get any cows consistently repeating scanned to check for any infection or cysts and treat accordingly. Cows not yet having cycled that are calved longer than one month can be synchronised.

If using AI, choose a short gestation bull to try and pull calving back as much as possible.

Empty cows should ideally be segregated from older bull calves. While the risk of the calves physically bulling the cows is low, the risk of the calf developing pneumonia from following cows in heat around a paddock is much higher, especially with the colder nightime temperatures we are currently experiencing.

Autumn reseeding

While grass is still quite tight on a lot of farms, autumn reseeding should be considered for poor performing paddocks, as the wet weather in spring may mean that spring reseeds were never completed.

Autumn reseeding works for a lot of farms, but completing it now as opposed to later will mean that there is a better chance of getting a pre-emergence spray and a grazing completed in better weather conditions.

Swards will need 10-14 days after being sprayed off to effectively kill the sward, and it will take six weeks plus before the sward comes back in to production, leaving the first grazing in to mid-late September.