The winter is really starting to close in this week, with days getting very short and leaves quickly disappearing from the trees as we head towards the dormant season.

Grass is really bucking the trend though, with mild temperatures driving exceptional late season growth right across the country. Unfortunately, grazing conditions have continued to deteriorate through the month of November, which is making it very difficult to capitalise on this end-of-season bonus.

It’s difficult to predict the outcome from this in the spring. Paddocks that were closed as usual through the month of October are starting to build up very heavy covers of grass.

The quality should hold ok if they were well cleaned out when grazed. The paddocks that were grazed through the wetter weather from the middle of October onwards might develop more of a quality issue in the spring if there’s more dead material carried through.

There’s not much we can do about that for the moment. We can walk the paddocks regularly through the spring when cows are ready to go back out to grass and target getting back into the untidy paddocks in better ground conditions to hopefully set them up well for the 2023 grazing season.

Milk price continues to power along at exceptional levels, so we will keep cows milking a bit later into the season than usual.

We will dry off some more this week as necessary based on calving date, but we will milk on the later calvers a bit longer than usual.

We might even forego our usual dry period through Christmas in favour of milking a small batch of cows once a day through the month of December and right up to the start of calving again in mid-January.

The cull cows continue to move out of the yard in small batches and we should get the majority of these tidied up before Christmas as planned.

Prices are holding up very well in the cow sector and the World Cup should help this market even more by making the demand for lower quality manufacturing beef particularly strong through the next month.

Main jobs

The main jobs on hand at the moment are getting the majority of the herd dry in good health over the next month and then turning our attention to the spring and the influx of calves into the yard.

We will dry off the main portion of the herd in smaller batches. We only use one side of the parlour for this and usually target the mid-morning part of the day, so there is very little pressure on to get the job done in a hurry.

We usually pre-spray the cows and clean them before milking. We then use a hand-held teat sprayer to apply methylated spirits after milking. We will again only use antibiotics where needed this autumn based on milk recording.

Hopefully we can keep it under 50% of the herd needing tubes. If we can, we will try to put the cows out for 24 hours on a bare paddock after drying off, but that option might be more of a challenge than usual this year.

Tags also have to be ordered and calf feeders serviced and cleaned again before the end of the year. We will make a list in the office and hopefully we’ll be able to get most of it ticked off in good time.

There is straw and fertiliser sitting in the calf sheds as well as some machinery so these sheds will be left until the last minute to get cleaned and disinfected before the new season.