We have never depended so much on silage. The switch from young bulls on high levels of meal feeding to dairy beef steers approaching 24 months of age has more than doubled the amount of silage eaten per head of stock per day. It’s easy to see the difference in the yard, as every week we come to terms with the amount of silage consumed.
The reverse side of the coin, of course, is that we are using much less meal. The only cattle being given 7-8kg per head are those within 40 to 50 days of slaughter and weighing around 600kg.
Again, unlike the young bulls, the weight gain is nowhere near paying for the cost of feed. The aim is to get them up to about 650kg with a carcase weight of 325kg or so and hopefully producing a O 3= or + carcase.
It’s easy to see the difference in the yard, as every week we come to terms with the amount of silage consumed
But the bulk of the cattle are on silage ad-lib and just 1-2kg of rolled barley and minerals and lime, which I have used for the last number of years. With such an emphasis on silage, grass and cost control, I was surprised, when we broke it down, at the daily cost of such basics as minerals and ground limestone.
Meanwhile, as we monitor the rate of silage consumption, we will aim to begin grazing by day as early in February as conditions allow. Already, some of the newly reseeded grass paddocks are more than fit to graze in terms of growth with, I reckon, more than 1,500kg per ha.
Some of the early closed old permanent pasture is too advanced for slurry, even if conditions are excellent next week when we are allowed spread slurry again. Instead, we will take a tight grazing and then go out with well agitated slurry as we graze each paddock.
Some of the early closed old permanent pasture is too advanced for slurry, even if conditions are excellent next week
Meanwhile, we have got over the coldest snap we have had for some years. The coldest time was last Friday night into Saturday morning, when the local temperature was reported at below -7°C.
While sinking the water hydrodare below ground and lagging it above ground and the water from the deep well coming up at about +6C gives us some degree of protection against normal frost, when the severe cold comes during the night and there is no water being pumped up, any vulnerable spot can freeze up.
It only happened to one trough, but a succession of boiling kettles and frustration at stubborn blockages has encouraged a fresh drive to lag the most vulnerable locations.