A week of high rainfall and low temperatures has put a stop to any thoughts of turnout on many suckler farms.

With the number of calved cows growing, there can be a pinch point on housing facilities at this stage of the year until turnout can commence.

Where this is the case, the most important thing to remember is hygiene.

Keep all calf lie-back areas well bedded, even if that means buying a few extra bales of straw.


Disease-causing bugs love wet and dirty conditions. If we can minimise these, we will minimise disease build-up.

This means avoiding any introduction of moisture into the environment.

Make sure calves have constant access to fresh water, but it is also important that this water source is not wetting bedded areas.

Make sure calves have access to fresh, clean water and that troughs are at the correct height.

While you may think power-washing out calf sheds and lie-backs will help reduce disease, it can, in fact, do the opposite.

Power-washing makes disease-causing bugs airborne and will help them spread, while increased moisture in the environment will help them multiply.

Increased space

On Tullamore Farm, farm manager Shaun Diver converts part of a centre feed passage to a calf creep area when housing comes under pressure.

In order for this to work, it means silage must be available to cows ad-lib, as the feed space is reduced slightly.

A calf creep area in the centre feed passage on Tullamore Farm.

Be resourceful with the facilities on your own farm to find short-term solutions to housing pressure.

Remember, calves need to be in a well-ventilated area that is kept free from draughts.

Be mindful of draughts coming in under doors and gates of sheds.

Better week ahead

The good news is that next week looks to be milder and more settled and it should provide the opportunity to get at least some cows and calves out to grass in certain parts of the country. This will help relieve the housing pressure.

Target fields that have good shelter and that are close to the yard for the first few days post-turnout so that a close eye can be kept on stock.