Name: Jamie Hayes.
Enterprise: Suckler cows and finishing all progeny.
- Suckler cows: 51
- Cows calved: 51
- Calves: 52
- Maiden heifers: 10
- Yearlings: 41
- 24 months: 32
- Stock bulls: 2
What happened this week?
This week has been our busiest week so far this year. It’s peak season for our contracting work, so it is the predominant focus at the moment; hopefully, it will calm down next week.
All the 24-month-olds and yearlings were dosed with Animec pour-on; the heifers on the home farm were dosed with Noromectin pour-on. We find pour-on very handy as it’s very fast and easy to apply, especially on the dry cattle. We seem to get good results, which is the ultimate objective, so we will continue utilising the product.
All of this year’s calves were dosed on Saturday with Cydectin LA into the ear; we first started using this 4-years-ago and will definitely stay with it as it covers the calves until August.
We also baled all our first cut at home and cut a heavy paddock to get it back into the rotation. We are going to leave the Angus bull with the main herd to help the Charolais.
What’s happening next week?
The good weather is apparently here to stay (for a while anyway), so hopefully, we will finish the first cut on the out-farm; if the weather does break it will allow us a chance to get slurry out on the silage ground along with fertiliser and ground will be closed up for the second cut.
We will continue to watch our grass and try and meet demand and any paddock that is gone too heavy will be taken out as bales.
Name: Joe Desmond.
Enterprise: Wagyu Farmer.
This week, I’m focusing on a problem that most beef farmers would not normally encounter. I am a Wagyu beef producer and one of the benefits of the breed is easy calving - especially with heifers. I have calved almost all of my heifers before 24-months. Part of this is an eagerness to develop the percentage herd and get these genetics on the ground. The demand is high and the market is developing, but there is a downside of calving a heifer too young. The Wagyu is not a milky breed, to begin with, and a heifer under 2-years will find it difficult to keep up with the demands of making milk for her calf and meet her nutritional demands for her own developing body.
As the heifer produces milk while still growing, she may lose out on one (or sometimes both!) of the demands before her. Will her intake go towards physical development or to producing milk? I’ve had it where the calf is well weaned after 6-8 months but the cow has no growth or reserve. Likewise, I have had a first-time calfer manage to continue to grow physically, but never develop enough milk for the wanting calf.
This seems like a no-win situation but there are a few tricks to balance it out and the rewards are worth it if you take care. Firstly, I focus on the heifer before calving. She must get the absolute best of nutrition. I use F1 Wagyu heifers out of Dairy cows as they tend to develop great udders by their second calving, but they have under-developed udders at first calving.
I’ll have to supplement the calf’s feeding with milk replacer. This is an added expense and also an extra workload but at least I’m confident the calf is getting 2-4 litres a day in the first two-weeks between the mother and me.
I also supplement the cow with whatever ration I think will benefit her most keeping an eye on any adverse effect on the calf. Dairy nuts are great but they tend to scour the calf if you overload the mother. I was mixing Dairy nuts and whole oats for two weeks pre-calving. I cannot honestly say I noticed any monumental increase of her bag developing before calving but I know if I did nothing there would be a problem. It’s just something I do and I’ll stick with it until I see an adverse effect.
Rolled oats are my favourite input as they have a ton of fibre, no real digestive issues and are the cheapest grain going. I wish more farmers would grow oats! I also get the calves eating creep feed straight away as well as hay or straw to develop the rumen. These calves are going to be finishing on upwards of 8kg grain a day so rumen development is ultra important.
Another thing I aim for to help in this programme is late spring calving. I want nature to help out as much as possible in this situation and that means access to grass on its upward growing trend. I’m really a big believer in giving the cow’s access to growing grass as a vital building block to developing the animal and put nutrition into their milk. There is great nutrition for both cow and calf in growing grass. Also having 24-hour access to this grass is important. This means calving down in coordination with grass growth. For me, that’s right now.
The last piece of this puzzle is having the calf fairly independent of the cow and able to be weaned as early as possible. Six months is recommended for Wagyu. This gives the cow the opportunity to get back into shape for her next calving and the calf beginning her long journey towards finishing. It also coincides with December housing, all going well.
I’m focusing on a problem that most beef farmers would not normally encounter, but Wagyu production is not like most beef farming.
Name: Libby Clarke
Enterprise: Suckler farmer.
It's been a busy week meeting potential land sales clients across the country and also managing to fit in a number of Balmoral post-show meetings.
In between that, there's still plenty of farming to be done. One of the most dreaded jobs on the farm is TB testing and I have the first day over and now have the wait to see if I get the all clear on day four.
We operate a virtually closed herd with any new stock all being tested before they arrive as a precaution, but with the rise in TB cases countrywide it's still a worry.
Also gathering stock up when they are at grass for testing is zero fun as in this weather the last place they want is in!
I also got a number of cows and heifers scanned that had been synchronized and AI'd 42 days ago. This was a mixed result for us, but still worth doing I feel as it will continue to vary bloodlines within the herd. The first down the chute was a pedigree Charolais which had been served to the noted bull Oldstone Egbert. I had real doubts as to whether she had held as she appeared to show signs of heat midway through the synchronization programme, but boom she's in-calf!
I also have shorthorn pregnancies to Bayview Unique and Chapelton Kingsley. The latter is a sexed bull and in hindsight, I may have used two different straws when inseminating using sexed semen as I do think conception rates are much lower. May not be cost effective to do this but I have a feeling I would have had higher number scanning in-calf in a batch which is important to me also.