December farm management tips

By Sinéad Devaney, Teagasc Adviser, Galway/Clare Regional Unit

The onset of storm Diana has ensured that all cattle are housed by now. Ground conditions up to recently allowed fields and paddocks to be adequately grazed out. It is now rest-time to allow build-up of grass for early spring grazing.

Beef Housing: Pen stock according to sex, age and weight. This will reduce bullying, while helping regulate feed and concentrate levels.

Sucklers: Pen dry suckler cows according to their body condition score. Now is the time to correct the body condition score (BCS) of thin cows and over-fat cows so that in the last two months prior to spring calving, all cows will be of similar BCS and can be fed the same. The target BCS at calving is 2.5 on a scale of 0-5.  Restrict feed to cows at BCS 3.5, increase feed for cows at BCS 2 or less. When restricting feed it is important that all animals have adequate feed space to access feed at the same time. First-calvers can be fed in a group with the thin cows.

Cattle: Unfinished cattle which were on concentrates at grass can be finished indoors (within two months) on silage and meal fed ad lib. Ration needs to be high-energy, low-protein (12-14% CP). The higher the energy, the quicker the finish. Aim to slaughter cattle when well finished at fat classes 3, 4 minus, and 4=, and preferably under 30 months.

Silage: Your silage quality will determine the feeding strategy and feed cost for the winter. Consider having a detailed silage analysis done, costing only €36. Knowing the silage feed value allows you to give the best quality feed to weanlings or finishing cattle that have higher requirements for quality. Better silage quality requires lesser meal supplementation than silage of poorer quality.

For more,  read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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