A lot of stock have been housed this week in far from ideal conditions. Many farmers had no choice with ground conditions. Heavy finished cattle and suckler cows were doing a lot of damage to paddocks.

If cattle have been housed wet, make sure to have ventilation at a maximum for the next few days. Avoid doing anything like dosing or castration until cattle have settled in to their housing routine.

If you have housed weanlings that are due for sale, make sure they have access to a well bedded creep area.

They will keep a lot cleaner on straw before sale. Make sure to keep up the meal feeding as per National Beef Welfare Scheme requirements if you are a participant, but also to make sure there is no drop in performance between housing and sale.

If you have had pneumonia issues in the past talk to your vet about a vaccination programme. If you have already vaccinated, a booster shot at housing is best practice to get weanlings or autumn born calves over the next few weeks.

Closing up paddocks

With weather changing and housing not that far away, attention should turn to setting the farm up for early grass next spring. Early grass won’t grow in January.

It will accumulate on paddocks that are closed up early in autumn and this will set the farm up for early grass next spring. Pick off some dry paddocks, graze them as tight as possible and close them up.

Try to pick sheltered paddocks, as these could be grazed in difficult weather conditions next spring. On heavy farms, the target is to start closing paddocks in the last week of September and to have 60% of the farm grazed by 31 October.

Drier farms can start a week later and have 60% of the farm grazed by 7 November. Once paddocks are closed don’t be tempted to go back in and graze with weanlings.

Slurry Tanks

I’ve had a few calls on slurry tanks being full and what to do in that situation. While the seven day extension to the slurry spreading deadline was welcome, the weather hasn’t played ball, and it’s unlikely to have any affect on farmers who were struggling to get slurry out by the upcoming 7 October deadline.

Where tanks are full, there aren’t many options but there is always a solution, it just takes some work to find it. Driving around the country, I see a lot of empty sheds and slatted tanks every winter.

Is there an option to transfer some slurry to these tanks until the slurry spreading season opens again in spring time?

There is an equal number of sheds around the country that aren’t stocked near to capacity, and this might also be a solution where a few loads of slurry could be transferred.

It’s illegal to spread any slurry with a rain gun or with a spout on the end of a tanker off a roadway. It’s also illegal to spread outside of the open period, regardless of weather or ground conditions so if we get a dry October, slurry still can’t be spread.

Farmyard manure can continue to be spread up until 31 October. The opening period for slurry spreading commences again on 13 January 2024 in Zone A, 16 January in Zone B and 1 February in Zone C.