The recent heatwave, combined with the lack of grass growth, has created issues for many suckler and beef farmers.
As such, herd owners should be checking on cattle more often and taking steps to alleviate problems as soon as they develop.
Outlined are five tips to consider when managing cattle through the current hot, dry spell.
Fresh water is crucial to keeping cattle hydrated, avoid heat stress and maintain milk production in spring-calving cows.
A suckler cow usually drinks 50 to 60l/day, but this will increase during hot weather and when eating high dry matter forages offered to stretch grass covers.
Therefore, when herding cattle every day, check that drinkers are clean and that troughs are refilling properly.
Fly control in dry cows and heifers
In hot conditions, cattle have a tendency to seek shade under trees or hedgerows. Unfortunately, trees and hedges can attract high levels of fly activity.
As dry cows and heifers lie in these areas to shelter from the sun, they can be more prone to developing mastitis from higher fly activity.
Using a fly-repellent pour-on can be easily applied to these animals and will help reduce the risk of mastitis.
Other fly repellents can be used along with the pour-on, increasing the efficacy of prevention.
Split higher levels of meal feeding for stores
With a shortage of grass, many farmers are feeding high levels of concentrate to store or forward cattle at present.
But with such low covers of grass, cattle will struggle to get enough forage in their diet.
As such, a lack of rumen fibre, combined with feeding 3kg to 4kg/head of concentrate in one offering, increases the risk of acidosis in cattle.
While it is more time consuming, when concentrate levels increase to 3kg or above, split the feed allocation into two or more allocations.
Remember that feeding concentrate will increase dry matter intake and, as such, water intakes will also increase.
Creep feeding calves
Introducing creep feeders for spring-born calves will reduce the nutritional stress on spring-calving cows as they try to maintain milk production and settle in-calf again.
Creep feeding when grass is in short supply will also maintain calf performance, which is crucial on farms where calves are sold as weanlings during autumn sales.
Keep silage in feeders fresh
Where cattle are being offered silage to stretch grazing covers, it is important to keep supplementary fodder fresh and palatable.
High temperatures can cause silage to heat and spoil if cattle are not consuming the bale fast enough. Always make sure feeders are emptied before topping up with fresh silage.