Livestock handling at the Ploughing
Peter Varley looks at some of the livestock handling equipment available at the National Ploughing Championships.

There is a range of livestock handling equipment on show at the Ploughing. Here, we take a brief look at what’s available.

O'Donovan Engineering

The Cow Pow moving feed barrier from O’Donovan Engineering was on display. The barrier can move forward as cows eat the fodder in front of them. The idea is that there is less pushing and management of fodder in front of housed cattle.

O'Donovan Engineering's Cow Pow feed barrier.

O’Donovan Engineering says that the barrier is a good labour-saving tool and claims it can save farmers up to 70% feeding time over conventional barriers. It is particularly useful in narrow passageways.

The company says there are a lot of barriers now being exported to Iceland where cows stay indoors for long periods. The approximate cost per bay is €1,800.

According to O’Donovan Engineering, the Saber draft is popular as a retrofit option for existing dairy parlours. There are two-way and three-way systems available.

The Saber drafter unit from O'Donovan Engineering.
The Saber system works off EID tags and drafts can be scheduled using a phone or tablet. The three-way system costs approximately €13,000 excluding VAT, while the two-way system costs €11,000 excluding VAT.

Condon Engineering

Condon Engineering has a smaller version of its handling unit on display. It says fixed handling units have become popular since TAMS II was launched.

The handling units have a circular entrance to the cattle race and a non-return forcing gate, which makes it easier and safer for one person to handle cattle.

Prices vary depending on size but a standard pen and crush costs approximately €7,000 excluding VAT.

Condon Engineering's supreme handling crate.

Condon Engineering also has the cow supreme handling unit, which allows the farmer to immobilise cattle to make handling safer and easier. It costs €4,200 excluding VAT with weigh scales.

Gibney Steel Products

Gibney Steel Products has its mobile handling unit on show at its stand. The company says the hurdles that make up the race and penning have a hot dipped galvanised finish.

Gibney Steel Products has a steel livestock handling unit on display.

Gibney Steel Products says that farmers with rented land and out farms find the handling unit useful because it can be moved around without major fuss. A unit costs approximately €45/m.

The company also does a headscoop that is operated using a winch that gives the operator more power to raise an animal's head. It says it can be let down quickly, if necessary.

The Gibney Steel Products headscoop.

Watch: Tullamore Farm's winter workload
Adam Woods was on Tullamore Farm this week and he talked to farm manager Shaun Diver about feeding forage crops, weanling diets and winter workload over the last few weeks.

Beef management: scour vaccine use and tightening the calving spread
This weeks' beef management notes take a look at scour vaccines, tighening the calving spread and getting value in beef rations.

Scour vaccine

With spring calving just around the corner, some thoughtful planning can sometimes make things a lot easier. Calf scour can cause a lot of stress to both man and beast at calving. Where there has been a history of calf scour on the farm, it may be worth considering using a scour vaccine. Cost should also be taken into account, as these vaccines can often cost close to €10 per dose. The timing of administration will depend on which product you use. The three products on the market are Rotavac Corona, Bovigen (one-shot vaccines that should be administered from 12- to -three weeks pre-calving) and Trivacton 6. In year one, Trivacton 6 requires a primary shot followed by a booster shot. The primary should be administered six weeks pre-calving, with the booster administered four weeks after the primary shot. In subsequent years, these cows will only require a booster shot two to six weeks pre-calving.

It is important to follow the administration guidelines accurately. Vaccinating the cow prior to calving will allow her to produce antibodies against the main scour-causing bacteria and viruses. As these antibodies do not pass from the cow to the calf prior to birth, the vaccine will be wasted if the calf does not acquire colostrum from its mother after birth. Ideally, the calf should get about three litres of colostrum within two hours of birth. As the effectiveness of the vaccine will depend on the passive transfer of antibodies from the mother, the calf should remain on the mother’s milk for at least 10 to 21 days for full effectiveness of the vaccine. Where calves are bought in, management and cleanliness may be more effective at reducing the prevalence of scour.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine available for cryptosporidium and clean calving pens and adequate colostrum are absolutely essential for preventing this disease taking over at calving time.

Tightening calving spread

The easiest way to tighten the calving spread to 10-12 weeks is to remove the bull or stop AI. Cows calved in August and September should be served by now. If breeding stops on 15 December and allowing for a 289-day gestation, cows bred this week will calve by 30 September 2019. If breeding started on 1 October, cows will have had 11 weeks to go in-calf. Cows calved in late September should have cycled twice by now and have had a good opportunity to go in-calf. Take note of heat activity after breeding finishes.

Scanning can be completed 30 days after breeding stops and empty cows shouldn’t be allowed slip into spring and should be finished or sold before turnout in spring. These animals drag down herd output and should be culled and replaced with heifers.

Ration price

There are some indications that ration prices are set to come back a little in the new year. Make sure you are getting the best possible value when purchasing a ration and make sure to agree a price. Stick to simple rations with three or four key ingredients. Rations with a lot of ingredients tend to have some questionable inclusions.

Keeping your farm and household secure this winter – top tips
Local garda based in Granard, Co Longford, recently briefed farmers at a KT event in Granard Mart, Co Longford, on farm security. The event highlighted a number of areas that farmers can address.

Burglary incidences have decreased 8% between August 2017 and July 2018 when compared to the previous 12 months, according to garda statistics.

The biggest reduction in burglaries was in Co Cork. More burglaries are reported in winter months (October to March) and winter burglaries are likely to take place between 5pm and 10pm.

During last winter, €3.7m worth of jewellery was stolen from Irish households, €1.9m stolen in cash, €570,000 in electronic goods and €435,000 in tools.

Lock up and light up tips

  • Secure all doors and windows.
  • One in six burglaries last winter was through an insecure door or window.
  • Light up your home. Use timer switches when out.
  • Around 37% of burglaries occur between 5pm and 1pm.
  • Record details of valuables and don’t leave large amounts of cash at home.
  • Jewellery and cash are the most commonly stolen items in burglary.
  • Garda Michael Duffy explained that marked property was less desirable to burglars as it is harder for them to sell. Marked property is also more likely to be returned to its owner.

    Your Eircode is the best thing to mark your property with and this greatly assists the gardaí in their investigations.

    Only 8% of stolen tools last year had a serial number or engraving recorded.

    How can I prevent burglary?

  • Review your farm security annually.
  • Become a member of your local Neighbourhood Watch, Community Alert or Text Alert scheme.
  • Store and secure your property when not in use.
  • Make your mark: record details of your valuables.
  • Liaise with your local gardaí for more information.
  • Over €350,000 worth of animals were stolen from Irish farms between September 2017 and August 2018.

    Farmers should check livestock regularly and ensure animals are marked with identifiable tags or chips.

    Almost €270,000 worth of farm tools were stolen in the same period along with €220,000 worth of trailers and thousands of litres of agricultural diesel.

    Garda Paul McDermott explained that people shouldn’t leave the keys in a vehicle when not in use.

    Over one-third of tractors of tractors that were stolen in the last 12 months had the key in them. It’s a similar story with vans. Three-quarters of vans stolen from farms last year were stolen with the key in the ignition and it’s the same story with quads.

    Garda Michael Duffy went through the different ways of property marking that farmers could use to mark their property which included:

  • Ultraviolet pen.
  • Engraving pen.
  • Metal stamping kit.
  • Electronic property making tool.
  • Paint.
  • Weld unique number on to vehicle chassis.