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Scanning is vital aid in the successful management of our suckler cow herds

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BY ANTHONY O’CONNOR

TO scan or not to scan? That is the question facing many suckler farmers at present. In recent years, the number of suckler cows being pregnancy scanned has fallen sharply as farmers strive to save cash and cut costs. However, the benefits of pregnancy scanning far exceed the costs involved.

If it is at least 35 days since the last cow in the herd could have been served then you should consider scanning the cows. It offers so many advantages that it is a vital tool used on well managed herds.

• It will tell you what is and what is not in calf. This will allow you the opportunity to take out empty cows, wean their calves that bit earlier and have these barren cows finished with some supplementation off grass.  Finishing these barren cows (along with other cull cows) will save you fodder, money, time and shed space.

• Most scanners will be able to give you a good estimate of the number of weeks that each cow has gone in calf.  We can use this information to predict the cows due date which will influence how she is fed, when she is to be vaccinated, (if you give a scour vaccine).  It will also allow you to predict the peak calving period so that extra help can be planned or when you may need to take time off work.

• In the run up to calving, pregnant cows can be drawn out and penned according to their predicted calving date. At calving time, these cows can be moved into pens or loose housing closest to the calving boxes/area.  Scanning allows you to identify late calvers, batch them together and feed accordingly.  These predicted late calvers could be selected for culling next year when their calves have been weaned. There is also the option of culling these predicted late calvers now and selling them at the mart.  

Other advantages: Provided cows haven’t gone over 12 to 14 weeks in calf you may well be able to pick up if there are any cows carrying twins which will alert you to watch the condition of these cows in the run up to calving.  It will also have you primed for what to expect at calving.

It will sometimes show up cows that may be carrying an unviable embryo that for one reason or another is unlikely to go full term.

If the scanning reveals for example that more than 5% of your cows are empty then this may signify that there is a fertility problem in your herd.  Maybe it was a bull issue or perhaps a mineral deficiency or a disease problem – either way, it should prompt you into investigating the issue further.

The cost of scanning is approximately €5 per cow. However, the cost per cow is generally less for larger herds (20 or more cows) and where cows are all scanned together in the one location.  A suggestion is that some farmers in the same locality (or in a discussion group) get together and arrange to have their herds scanned on the same day, thus reducing costs.  

In summary, pregnancy scanning will tell you what is and what is not in calf, allowing you to cull barren cows. It provides information on what to expect and when to expect it, thus helping in the organisation of calving and labour requirements. It is a vital management tool for suckler herds.

*Anthony O’Connor is a drystock adviser with Teagasc, Athenry. Comments to anthony.oconnor@teagasc.ie 

 

Connacht Tribune

Fair Deal reached as Bill is enacted

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Maura Canning: Good day expected.
Maura Canning, the former IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chairperson

RELIEF has been expressed this week in farming and political circles that at last the Fair Deal Nursing Home legislations changes have been passed by the Oireachtas.

The Bill went through the Dáil last Thursday and the Seanad on Friday, bringing to a conclusion a campaign that started back in 2012.

Maura Canning, the former IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chairperson, told the Farming Tribune there was a great sense of relief that a nine-year long campaign had at last got over the line.

“It has been such a long and difficult campaign to secure this deal with a lot of complications and obstacles along the way. At times, we seemed to be almost there, until something happened to hold up the process, but there really was a great sense of relief last Friday when the Bill at last passed through its final stages,” said Maura Canning.

She paid a particular to former Minister of State, Jim Daly; the current incumbent Mary Butler; and also to the many TDs and Senators that had been lobbied over the years on the issue. “No TD ever failed to return a call,” she said.

The key change in the new Bill is that there will be a three-year cap on the 7.5% annual contribution of the overall value of the farm where the farmer or their spouse is in a nursing home. There are a number of conditions attached to this CAP, the most significant of which is the fact that the farm must be signed over fully to the inheritor for a five-year period and this person must also continue farming on the land.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Stay safe on the farm

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GALWAY farmers have again been reminded during Farm Safety Week to ‘stop, think and slow down’ as they go about their work during the busy Summer season – and indeed for the rest of the year as well.

Roy O’Brien, Galway/Mayo IFA Regional Executive, told the Farming Tribune that too many farm families had been impacted upon by fatalities or life-changing injuries over recent years.

“In their daily work, farmers have to be a bit of everything from a vet to a mechanic to a driver of heavy machinery and often these tasks have to be carried out with no one else around.

“I think that this change of duties represents one of the big challenges to farmers in terms of their own health and safety. Every day can bring a new job and a new safety challenge,” said Roy O’Brien.

Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, said it was shocking to think that between 2011 and 2020, 21 children had lost their lives in farm accidents across the country.

“While children look forward to being home on the farm for the Summer, now is an important time to have conversations about safety.

“Tell them about the dangers and set the rules but don’t expect a child to take on the responsibility of keeping themselves safe. Children do not understand risk,” said Anne Mitchell.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Top ten steps to reduce GHGs

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Suckler herds: The longer they can be kept out to grass, the better it is for reducing emissions.

TEAGASC has outlined a 10-step programme to help beef farmers reduce their carbon footprint over the coming years as part of agriculture’s contribution to the cutting of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

Martina Harrington, Teagasc Beef Specialist, has outlined that 68% of all agricultural GHG emissions in Ireland are methane based while almost all the rest are nitrous oxide – less than 3% are carbon dioxide.

She explained in the latest edition of the Teagasc magazine, Today’s Farm, that methane is a by-product of the digestive system of animals while nitrous oxide (N2O) is a gas caused by the breakdown of nitrogen.

In terms of methane reductions, Martina Harrington, recommends more efficient suckler cows; better daily weight gains from calves; the possible use of feed additives; and an extension of the grazing season to reduce slurry volumes.

As regards nitrous oxide, she recommends a reduction in the amount of synthetic fertiliser to be applied by improving soil fertility, especially in relation to soil pH levels [liming].

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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