With cattle housed for the winter, there will be more opportunities to complete some of the bigger autumn management tasks.

Handling cattle after housing is easier compared to gathering animals off grass.

Outlined below are five management tasks to consider undertaking in October.

1. Scanning spring-calving cows

Scan spring-calving cows now. Empty cows with strong calves at calves at foot should be weaned before they start losing body condition in the shed.

Thin cows will be worth less when selling live. Supplementary feed will be required to regain condition prior to selling, so weaning now will be more cost effective.

Where housing allows, penning cows based on projected calving date is recommended. Feed can be better managed to stop late-calving cows getting over fat, with minerals targeted to early spring-calving cows when appropriate.

2. Clipping cattle

Clipping cattle along the head, back and tail will keep animals cleaner on slats, as well as helping animals regulate body temperature. This reduces the risk of pneumonia in weanlings.

When clipping backs, aim to trim a good 4in to 6in either side of the spine to be effective. Continue over the rump, to help keep hindquarter clean. Keep safety in mind and have animals properly restrained.

3. Weighing

Weigh cattle after housing. There are multiple benefits to weighing, such as aiding decisions on which animals to finish out of the shed or to compare the progeny of different stock bulls.

4. Weaning

February, March and early April-born calves should be strong enough to wean at this stage of the year.

There is little merit in feeding high-quality silage and meal to maintain milk in spring-calving cows, as well as offering meal direct to calves in creep pens.

It will be more economical to feed an extra 1kg/day directly to calves to maintain weight gain and wean cows. This will also save on high-quality silage, as dry cows can be fed a lower-quality forage.

5. Parasite control

Once cattle have settled in the shed, bring parasite control up to date. The wet summer and autumn means fluke burdens will be high and early treatment may be needed. Dung sampling will give a good indication of parasite levels in cattle.

If fluke drenching in the first two to three weeks post-housing, choose a product that kills the parasite at the early immature and mature stage. Be mindful of withdrawal dates where stores and cull cows will be finished later this year.

Combine with a good wormer for young cattle and a product that targets lice.

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