The work routine is at its most structured at this time of year. Animals are housed and settled and the unpredictability that calving brings is still over a month away.
Calving is never long coming around once new year’s is out of the way.
This time it feels like it has snuck up on me. It really has, because when I started writing this I said it was six weeks away and only for checking up something else in the diary I’d be none the wiser.
There’s a small bit of bale rearranging to be done in the shed and after that it’s a case of put the gates up and get the group calving pen together. The individual pens are ready to go since last autumn.
Cows have got their BVD vaccinations and the rotavirus vaccine is next.
About 20% will get a fluke dose and that will be determined by their condition.
Any cows on the thin side will be getting a second dose to cover for rumen fluke in a few weeks.
Feeding for the cows is pretty straightforward at the moment. They are in good condition and have access to silage for about five days followed by a feed of either hay or straw for the balance of the week.
Fortunately, the end is in sight for the BVD eradication programme
Some of the heifers have a bit too much condition so they might be going on a hay diet for a few weeks.
I didn’t realise until I counted it out but the upcoming calving season will be our 10th year doing BVD testing. Fortunately, the end is in sight for the BVD eradication programme, with 2023 set as the year for its completion. Much maligned at times, there are certainly lessons to be learned from the implementation of the programme, especially if other diseases are to be tackled in future.
It could be argued that the ‘politics of no’ held sway as a focus on compensation over eradication was prioritised by farm organisations
It seemed like the end date kept moving and it’s easy to see why concern grew among farmers that it would turn into another runaway train like the TB eradication scheme became.
It could be argued that the ‘politics of no’ held sway as a focus on compensation over eradication was prioritised by farm organisations. That is understandable, though, as it is what a vocal proportion of various memberships wanted.
The splintering of farm organisations over the last decade will make designing any future disease eradication programmes more challenging.
I’m not arguing the rights and wrongs of all the different groups, but is there merit in at least trying to find a bit of common ground before heading into discussions? The meat factories act in unison under the Meat Industry Ireland banner.
Maybe their ability to be on the same page is one of the reasons they stand to benefit from the €100m support package announced for meat and dairy processors with no conditions attached while some farmers struggle to work out the best way to deal with the 5% nitrates reduction that was the standout clause in the BEAM scheme.