The recent onset of wet weather has made ground conditions difficult along the western seaboard and in areas of heavy clay soils.

Housing has commenced on some farms, with more due to occur in the next number of weeks.

Hopefully, any necessary repairs to gates, barriers and water troughs have been completed and the accommodation has been washed and disinfected in preparation.

Space requirements

Having adequate space for cattle to both feed and lie freely is essential from both an animal welfare and animal performance point of view. Teagasc has set out recommended space allowances for cattle, as detailed below in Table 1.

Suckler cows housed on slats require 2.5m² to 3m² per cow, with cows suckling spring-born calves requiring an additional 1m², with those suckling autumn calves requiring an additional 1.75m².

Cows being housed in loose-bedded accommodation require 4m² to 5m² per cow.

Cows with ad lib forage will require 400mm to 500mm per animal, while those on restricted forage or autumn-calving cows receiving concentrates will require 600mm to 700mm per animal. This equates to roughly seven to eight cows per standard 4.8m (15’9’’) bay.

Store cattle

Store cattle will require approximately 2m² to 2.25m² per animal of lying space on slatted accommodation, with 4m² of space required for those on bedded accommodation.

These types of cattle will require 250mm to 300mm of feed space where ad lib roughage is fed, while cattle on restricted roughage or being fed meal require 500mm to 600mm of feed space.

Weanlings have a relatively low requirement, with 1.2m² to 1.5m² of lying space per animal, while 2.4m² to 3m² of space is required in loose bedded housing.

Required feed space along the barrier is 225mm to 300mm per weanling, while those receiving meal will require 400mm to 500mm of space.