Livestock farms around the country are gearing up for the busiest time of the year, which is the calving season. Almost 100,000 calves a week, or almost 15,000 calves a day, will be born on Irish beef and dairy farms during February and March 2024. Planning and attention to detail are extremely important for giving calves the best possible start in life and keeping them healthy. It’s all about doing the simple things well. Loads of colostrum and a clean, warm, dry bed will go a long way towards keeping calves right. Adequate straw supplies are a concern and any straw on the farm should be prioritised for calving and lambing over the next few weeks.

Donal Lynch MRCVS, the Tullamore Farm vet, goes into some detail around treating and preventing calf scour, something that crops up every year on every farm calving cows, on page 44.

On pages 42 and 52-54, I take a look at the Teagasc dairy beef action plan and whether it goes far enough in terms of securing the future of diary beef systems. Quality is important and last week’s news that O- and P-grade bullocks now make up 60% of the bullock kill was a big one. Another issue is the rise in the number of animals being slaughtered at fat score 2, an 8% rise between 2021 and 2023. The last 12 months have also seen the highest ever proportion of P-grade cows at 65%. The proportion of steers grading a fat score 3 has also dropped 3% in 2023. One thing that could arrest this decline is the Commercial Beef Value. Getting buy-in from both dairy and beef farmers is important if it’s to be successful.

On pages 46 and 47, Darren Carty takes a look at live exports, while on pages 50-51, Martin Merrick details good calf shed design. Tommy Moyles reports from one of the first big calf sales of the year in Bandon on page 48.