Before the grazing season comes to a close, there are a few management tasks that farmers should try and keep on top of, five of which are outlined as follows.
The closed period for slurry applications is just under one month away as of this weekend. Where possible, getting a few loads out using a 'little and often' approach takes the stress out of emptying storage tanks before the closed period starts.
This is best achieved by targeting slurry to grazed paddocks once cows are moved to fresh grass. If possible, target some of the heavier paddocks with slurry now, as there is no guarantee such fields will carry the tanker next month.
Silage harvesting should be more or less wrapped up for the year, so now is a good time to calculate how much fodder is currently on-farm.
This is particularly important on farms that were severely impacted by drought and have used forage to tide cattle over the summer.
A fodder budget can be carried out online at https://www.farmersjournal.ie/toolbox/fodder.php.
It can be completed manually by measuring the length, width and average height of the clamp in metres. To convert to a tonnage in fresh weight, multiply by 0.6 for silage at 30% dry matter.
Count up all round bales and multiply by 0.85 to get the tonnage, then add to the pit silage to get the tonnage of silage on-farm.
Dry cows will eat close to 1t of silage every month, with lactating cows eating closer to 1.5t. Weanlings and store cattle will eat 0.6t to 0.8t each month.
If there is a fodder deficit, options include selling some cattle this autumn, stretching silage with straw, feeding higher meal levels or purchasing fodder.
As weather becomes more changeable in autumn, there is an increasing risk of lactating cows developing grass tetany.
Make sure cows are well covered for magnesium and leave at least three weeks between slurry or fertiliser applications and grazing paddocks.
Make sure calves are up-to-date with parasite control, such as dosing for lungworm, in advance of weaning.
Calves that are free of parasites will be under less stress when weaned, making them less susceptible to pneumonia.
If respiratory vaccines are being administered, they should be completed three to four weeks before weaning to allow an immune response to build up before the period of high risk.
Offering calves creep feed in advance of weaning will also ease the transition off the cow. Feed calves four weeks out from weaning and continue post-weaning.
February to April-calving cows should be long settled in-calf. Scanning over the coming weeks will identify empty cows that can be pulled out for weaning and selling live, weaned and intensively finished or sold with calf at foot.