After a tricky start, grazing conditions have improved significantly on Newford Farm over the last week. This has allowed the remaining yearling heifers, another batch of cows with calves at foot and yearling bullocks to be turned outdoors. This now leaves 50 cows and their calves, 56 yearling heifers and 39 yearling bullocks at grass.

The cows and calves are run in two batches and are being grazed in paddocks with the heaviest covers. As it transpires, these paddocks also typically have good shelter, with account taken of where cows and calves would be most suited to graze when closing paddocks last autumn.

Grazing conditions are described by Michael Fagan, Teagasc, as being as good as could be expected for the time of year, with grass utilisation improving significantly as the week progressed. Cows and calves are achieving a good clean out, with paddocks being grazed to 3.5cm-4cm.

Grazing silage ground

Yearling heifers were used post-turnout to get a few heavy covers grazed off on the Newford block and were moved this week to the Cones outfarm block to graze of silage covers. As mentioned last week, the heifers weighed 411kg liveweight on average at turnout on 27 February and recorded an average daily gain over the winter of 0.52kg.

Cows and calves have settled well, with early turnout bringing about a significant reduction in labour input and cutting feed costs.

The yearling bullocks were turned out on 3 March and averaged 433kg liveweight. This equates to an average daily gain over the housing period of 0.63kg, with lifetime performance standing at 1.07kg per day.

Protected urea was applied in the last week using a contractor, with three-quarters of a bag per acre blanket spread across all ground with the exception of paddocks, which received 2,500gls slurry per acre via trailing shoe application.

Calving progress

Calving has slowed down after a busy five weeks. There were 66 cows calved as of Friday evening, with 63 live calves on the ground and 26 cows left to calve. Calving continues to progress relatively smoothly, with no issues to report in terms of calving difficulty or health problems.