Three to four times the normal rainfall in many places has made land wet and cows very unsettled. While the forecast is for better weather next week, daylight hours are decreasing, and with it the opportunities for good drying conditions.
Most farms have built up good covers of grass, but farmers are also saying that cows are going through paddocks very quickly as dry matter is low.
Feeding a bit of silage or extra meal might help to settle cows, but remember the more supplement that is fed the higher the residual will be as cows know they don’t need to work as hard outside when they can get easier, tastier feed inside. Feeding 1-2kg of silage or extra meal is OK in the short term.
As soon as weather settles, the feed can be reduced again. Avoid grazing the really heavy covers during wet weather – skip into some lighter covers which will be easier to clean out and cows will be going over a larger area.
Use 12 hour breaks, multiple access points and back fence where necessary. Low dry matter pasture and high clover contents are high risk for bloat, so continue to be alert for the risks.
Confusion remains over what parts of the country are likely to remain at a maximum stocking rate of 250kg N/ha and what parts are going to drop down to 220kg N/ha from next January. Until the definitive map is published, farmers won’t know where they stand.
The Department of Agriculture says this will be known by the end of this month, but that gives just 12 weeks for farmers that are affected to take necessary action. As outlined here, there will be significant financial consequences for farmers that are affected.
Saying you can lease land to get over the problem is all well and good, but just because you want land, or need land doesn’t mean you will get it or at a price that makes sense.
Farmers that are slightly over 220kg N/ha may be able to get under this by tweaking cattle numbers, reducing the number of replacement heifers to only what is required, selling cull cows earlier, etc.
This is likely to have the least cost impact on the farm business, before either leasing land, contract rearing heifers or reducing cow numbers are considered.
Wet weather, wet farm roadways and long walks all add up to increased lameness. As we head into autumn, cows’ hooves are going to be thinner and more predisposed to injury.
If remedial work needs to be carried out on roadways to release water or improve the surface, this should be prioritised. Make sure concrete surfaces are stone free – cows walking on stones when on concrete is akin to walking on Lego barefoot. Treat lame cows early.
The trick is to take the weight off the injured claw by putting a shoe on the good claw. If lameness is an issue, schedule the hoof trimmer to come once a week or once a fortnight to treat recently lame cows.
Alternatively, learn how to pare a foot and get a good hoof crate. If the job is easy to do it is more likely that it will be done.