Dairy Beef Welfare Scheme: Approval letters were issued this week for the Dairy Beef Welfare Scheme. The payment rate is €20 per eligible calf, up to a maximum of 50 calves. All eligible calves must be born between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023. An eligible calf is a male dairy-bred calf or a male/female beef-bred calf off a dairy dam. The calf must be at least 12 weeks of age at the time of weighing and the calf must have been on the holding for at least 10 days prior to weighing. Scales being used to weigh animals must be registered with the Department of Agriculture. Weights must be submitted by 5.30pm on Wednesday, 1 November, in order to be cleared for payment in 2023.

Under 16 month autumn bulls: Getting the housing weight right is critical in under 16-month bull producing systems and with many farmers considering housing autumn-born bulls over the next few weeks, housing at the right weight is very important in avoiding over weight carcases. Housing these animals earlier may also help reduce grass demand when growth returns. The advice here is to consult with your processor as to the age and weight of the animals that will be coming fit and likely time of slaughter. There have been some issues killing bulls over the last number of weeks, so it’s important that this conversation takes place. With weight issues coming more into the fray also, you should endeavour to have an average carcase weight of under 420kg. A bull with a carcase weight of 420kg at a killout of 58% will weigh about 700-720kg liveweight at slaughter. Factoring in an average weight gain of 1.5-1.8 kg/day bulls need to be housed at 500-560kg liveweight. To maintain high levels of performance, concentrates should be given at grass up to about 5kg/day in one to two feeds prior to housing. This will ensure that there is no check in the bulls’ weight gain. The increase to ad-lib meal feeding levels can then take place indoors over a two-week period. Once indoors avoid stressing bulls too much by moving them often and never mix bulls that haven’t been together in pens. When feeding bulls at grass, think safety at all times. I was talking to a factory agent who says there is an increased number of stock being slaughtered in the last two to three weeks under the required fat score of 2+ to achieve the QA bonus.

Farm Safety: Its national farm safety week next week and farm safety will be a topic of conversation. Use this opportunity to make some positive changes to the farm. They don’t have to be major investments, just small changes. Have a read through your farm safety statement and make sure it’s up to date. It’s important to take some time out and make sure you get some rest or holidays – time spent with family over summer holidays. Research has proven where fatigue and tiredness are factors, accidents are more likely to occur. A good idea is to get someone else to have a walk around your yard and point out things to you that they think aren’t safe. You could be walking past these things every day and not see them, but a different pair of eyes may pick them up.