Housing cattle for winter is the most costly period of the year on livestock farms. This is especially true this year when we see ration prices €50/t more expensive than the same time last year, in some cases.

The webinar on Thursday 25 November at 8pm will cover the most important factors farmers need to consider to minimise feed costs this winter, while at the same time optimising performance levels in stock.

We will cover interpreting silage analysis to managing silage feed-out and trough cleanliness in order to maximise the feed value of every kilo of feed on your farm.

With mild weather conditions currently being experienced, there are a lot of cases of silage pits heating and mould issues. We will look at options to minimise losses and how to get ahead of silage heating in the pit.

Performance targets

Cutting feed costs should not come at the expense of performance and while lower growth rates during the winter months can be made up in some cases next year at grass, a minimum growth target still needs to be achieved every day indoors.

We look at target daily liveweight gains for each class of stock on farm and how to achieve these targets on varying silage qualities.

Finish or store

The economics of winter finishing can be tight in the best of cases. We will look at the costs involved in taking an animal through to slaughter out of the shed next winter.

We will then compare this system to a store winter system, where the animal returns to grass next spring, and look at what some of the implications would be to both farm cashflow and grazing demand on farm next year if this option is selected.

Ration selection

The cheapest ration may be the most expensive in the long run if subsequent performance is poor.

On the night, we will take a look at what farmers should be looking for in a ration and, more importantly, what they should be paying. We will profile some example rations for different classes of stock.

On the night we will also be answering farmer queries and questions. Be sure to tune in at 8pm Thursday 25 November by going to www.farmersjournal.ie/live. The Winter Cattle Series is brought to you by the Irish Farmers Journal and supported by AXA Insurance.