With ground conditions rapidly deteriorating in the west and northwest, housing will likely be taking place on some farms this weekend.

The nature of suckler systems means a lot of suckler farms are part-time, hence jobs are completed at weekends.

Given the current ground conditions on some farms, the likelihood is that many will use the weekend as an opportunity to house cattle as opposed to taking a chance for another week.

While the forecast for next week is good, heavy rainfall this week will force some to house.

It’s important not to damage paddocks too much at this time of year, as poaching will mean the paddock will hold water over winter and be very slow to dry out next spring.


While weather has gotten milder in recent days, heavy rainfall can reduce grass intakes and lead to the onset of tetany. If cows are staying out, make sure that preventative action is taken to guard against tetany.

Licks can help prevent tetany, but intakes can be hard to ascertain.

Feeding hay or silage will help prevent tetany from occurring. Licks should also be accessible by cows, but magnesium intakes can sometimes be questionable with licks.

If weaning, it’s probably best to house the cows for a few days at least, as feeding indoors will help prevent tetany and also help prevent damage to paddocks from excessive walking by heavy cows.


Temperatures are forecast to stay above average over the weekend. Housing weanlings in damp, muggy, warm weather is a bad idea, as the risk of weanlings getting pneumonia is high in these conditions.

Finishing cattle would be better housed at this stage if ground conditions are difficult.

The stress of housing, weaning and the current weather conditions could mean weanlings could get sick very quickly.

If you have to house anything, it should be dry cows or weaned cows and leave young cattle out.

If you have to house weanlings, make sure they are in a shed with lots of ventilation. Leave doors open next week while weather is warm.

Lighter weanlings will do less damage to fields at this time of year

Lighter weanlings will do less damage to fields at this time of year and will be a lot healthier outside in the current weather conditions.

For participants in BEEP, weanlings need to be fed meal four weeks before weaning and two weeks after weaning to be compliant with the scheme.

If you have an inspection, you will be asked to provide dockets for meal for the six weeks where you have been meal feeding weanlings.


Make sure any last repairs or amendments to sheds have been completed before housing.

One area that sometimes needs attention and doesn’t often get it is cleaning fluoresent light holders. With a lot of jobs completed in darkness in the coming months, it’s important to have good lights in place around the yard.

It’s amazing the difference a quick clean can make to light holders.

Remember safety is number one. Don’t climb a ladder without having someone holding it at the bottom.

Make sure the power supply going to the shed is also switched off prior to working at the lights.

Finishing cattle

Where ground conditions are difficult, finishing cattle will be better housed at this stage. This may set them back a little as they adapt to the indoor diet, but it will be in a better position to put on weight again inside as opposed to standing at the back of a ditch all day waiting for an evening feed.

Bales are a good idea if feeding small numbers and if cattle were on 5kg/day outside, there will be no problem in going to 6kg to 7kg/head/day over a short timeframe.