While calving has begun on some farms, the main glut is yet to happen.
All too often, the work associated with calving and calf care, milking and feeding can erode any time left to set up the farm properly ahead of the grazing season and may have the knock-on effect of delaying the start to grazing.
Before calving kicks into fifth gear, it should be a priority for farmers to complete any necessary tasks.
Fallen trees due to storm damage over the past week may have led to permanent fencing being knocked down, damaged or simply earthing electric.
Simple things such as broken insulators can cause wires to earth off fencing posts and can severely affect the voltage of fencing.
Having a good boundary fence with between 5,000kV and 10,000kV will ensure that stock wait within the farm boundaries and allow you to hook temporary reels on to further subdivide paddocks, an essential task when using on-off grazing at the shoulders of the year.
Reels and temporary posts
Do you have sufficient reels and posts in the yard ahead of the grazing season? The number of reels required will depend on the number of stock groups on the farm and how well subdivided the grazing platform is with permanent fencing.
As a rule of thumb, you should have three to five reels minimum, with good-quality poly wire or tape on these. Having a greater number of reels can be particularly useful to allow you to set up the farm for a number of days grazing in one go (such as going for a weekend away).
Temporary posts invariably require a top-up in supplies each year due to the amount that are broken or go missing.
Pigtail posts, with their plastic insulating tubing at the top, can perish and crack, leading to the wire earthing off the steel post. A cheap and simple fix for this is to leave the perished covering intact and cover over with plastic garden hosing.
Water supply can be a larger project than the two mentioned above and where significant infrastructure investment such as pipe laying and installation of new water troughs is required, it may be necessary to hold off until field conditions allow machinery access.
In the short term, it's important to check existing water infrastructure.
Frost damage may have occurred to fittings, particularly old-style brass ones, or in concrete drinkers that were left full over the recent freezing conditions. Where damage has occurred, there may be a need for an immediate replacement.
Ballcocks on water troughs should also be checked; firstly, to ensure that they are not causing an overflow of water; and, secondly, that they are releasing water into the trough at the correct speed.
A build-up of lime, iron or dirt in the valves may be impeding flow, so these should be checked where there is an issue. Where these are found to be clear and working freely, there may be an underlying issue.
For farmers operating on a well and pump system, the pump may be of too low a horsepower to sufficiently drive water to the drinker.
Narrow diameter pipes (½in’ or ¾in’ pipes) may not have sufficient bore to meet the water demands and may need replacement with wider diameter (1’in or greater).
Similar to the valves in ballcocks, iron deposits can collect in water pipes and impede flow.
Leaks along the water pipe through damage or leaking fittings can also be the culprit of poor water flow and can contribute significantly to water or electricity charges and should be fixed promptly.