Drier weather for most of this week has allowed many farmers to return to grazing, at least by day. In the majority of cases, farmers are either finished grazing or close to finished. An important consideration is what cover is being carried over on the high clover paddocks. These are the paddocks that farmers have been minding all year because of their clover content and ability to fix nitrogen and thus keep fertiliser costs lower next year.
Clover needs sunlight and sunlight is scarce over an Irish winter. If there is a high grass cover in the field, then the risk of clover being shaded out and not getting enough sunlight increases. This is a key risk factor in clover dying out of a field prematurely. So there may be a trade-off between closing at the correct average farm cover for the farm (that is to have enough grass for early turn-out next spring) and to close closer paddocks at the correct cover.
As a rough rule of thumb, these paddocks should have no more than 900kg to 1,000kg of a cover on them now. Remember, paddocks with covers of 1,500kg today will probably have well over 2,000kg by the time they are grazed next spring. If high clover paddocks are on land that is too wet to graze, then leave them for another time.
There continues to be a scarcity of salmonella vaccine. According to manufacturers, new batches are arriving this week which will be sent to vets over the weekend and that should sort out most farmers. The thing to watch is timing of booster vaccination now versus last year. This is the single shot given to cows annually. By rights this should be given every 12 months but there will be some carry over of antibodies in the cow’s system beyond 12 months. However, this is farm specific – so best policy is to talk to your vet and they should be able to carry out a test to check for antibodies which would indicate the vaccine from the last booster is still present and providing protection.
If no antibodies are present then giving just one vaccine will be a waste of time and money. It’s extremely frustrating for farmers unable to get the vaccine as their herds are potentially exposed to the disease which causes abortions in pregnant cows and they also risk having to vaccinate all animals twice.
Preparations are in full swing for what will be a very informative day on 23 November. With so much happening regarding nitrates, milk prices and input costs, along with all the other constants such as environmental sustainability, labour shortages and public perception, it is really important that farmers arm themselves with the most up-to-date information and facts in order to protect their livelihoods. As well as having two stages with talks running throughout the day there are also over 70 trade stands in attendance where farmers can renew contacts and plan purchases for the year ahead. Entry to the event is essentially free for Irish Farmers Journal readers if they collect three tokens from the paper (last week, this week and next week). Digital subscribers will also get a complimentary ticket.