Most beef farms are at least contemplating housing some stock at this stage.
Farms in the west and north-west have heavier stock or dry cows housed at this stage while further south many have managed to keep stock at grass up to now.
Growth is still higher than normal for the time of year and the challenge on some farms is to achieve a sufficient level of graze outs on swards so that they come back fresh for next spring.
Where ground conditions are beginning to get sticky this is nearly impossible to achieve with cattle, unless weanlings can be maintained at grass for a little longer.
Cows and calves are still at grass which is a real bonus as we would budget on a 1 October housing date. It is a great saving on both silage and straw which could be worth a lot next spring.
We were debating housing some stock last weekend but conditions are holding up fairly well and with the mild weather we were reluctant to do so.
More than likely the cows and bull calves will have to be housed in the next few days. The heifer calves can stay out for another week or two. Calving doesn’t start until April so we start to wean at the end of November. The in-calf heifers will be able to stay at grass until early-December, they will graze some of the rougher ground over the next few weeks.
Cows have started their preparation for breeding which commences on 7 November. They are going into the shed once a day for some silage and 1.5kg meal. They will be housed full-time on 1 November. I find this approach eases the transition of the diet and it doesn’t upset breeding which helps keep calving intervals tight.
I have applied for the Department of Agriculture soil-sampling scheme to test the farm this winter. I like to test every two years. We have been working hard on improving P and K indexes over the last number of years but next year could be a challenge with where fertiliser prices are currently. It will be important to target slurry to ground which requires it most.
Grass supply on the farm remains quite good for the time of year. However, quality is starting to deteriorate and if we get some wet weather in the coming days it is only going to get worse.
In saying that, I hope to have another three weeks’ grazing ahead of the store cattle, weather depending.
The suckler cows will be housed late this week or over the weekend and we will start weaning at that stage. I have “quiet wean” nose flaps fitted which will help minimise the stress at weaning. This is my third year using them and although it means an extra handling of calves to fit them, I think they are really worthwhile. I hope to get the weanlings back to grass for three weeks once weaned if conditions allow.