Name: Libby Clarke
Enterprise: Suckler Farmer
This must have been the quickest week ever! Balmoral Show prep is in full swing, and all the other jobs are backing up on the farm.
Priority has been given to getting more calves tagged; horned and out with their cows to the grass. The warmer temperatures have thankfully resulted in a burst of growth. Although the fields are still wet underfoot, we seem to be getting away with small groups spread out on larger areas and we haven't done any damage to the fields.
With Balmoral Show just around the corner, I have also been working at exercising my heifer and friends cattle. Before this week is out all of them will have been washed and clipped ready for travelling to the show early next week.
There have been a couple more cows calving and touch wood all is continuing to go well.
Name: Jamie Hayes
Enterprise: Suckler cows and finishing all progeny
- Suckler cows: 51
- Cows calved: 51
- Maiden heifers: 9
- Yearlings: 41
- 24 months: 32
- Stock bulls: 2
What happened this week?
Finally, summer has arrived - All stock on both farms including the calves went out last Friday and are still out. The calves were vaccinated with their booster vaccination for blackleg before they went out. The last 9-acres of the silage ground finally dried up and we spread 22.7-2.5-5+s at 2 bags to the acre and 13-acres of ground that was grazed this week received 22.7-2.5-5+s at 1 bag to the acre. Grass growth has finally taken off and paddocks have been chosen to come out for bales in the next week or two depending on the weather.
Just a quick update on beef prices in the factories. Heifers are quoted at 415-420 c/kg with steers being quoted a little bit lower at 410 c/kg. Prices have risen in the last week due to very little sock coming off grass with the bad winter.
What’s happening next week?
For the coming week, the freshly grazed ground will get watery slurry at 1,600 gallons to the acre. Also, the wettest of the grazing ground will be grazed while the weather is dry.
Name: Joe Desmond
Enterprise: Wagyu Farmer
This week has seen an improvement in soil temperature and sunshine; grass is coming on but I think heavy rainfall and waterlogged fields have washed off fertiliser spread in April. Hopefully, this is not the case and extended daylight hours will warm the soil sufficiently to encourage growth.
I’m still grazing silage ground in strips but the back end is closed. I plan to close it all next week and move to rough grazing, but it is a race to the wire. I have to close the silage ground or I’ll get no bales but my rough grazing is not bursting with grass either, plus it’s soft. All I can do is sit tight and see what the weekend brings. It usually comes together in the end and one good day makes a huge difference.
I have a tough decision of taking one last rotation graze on the silage ground and hope the rest of the month brings exceptional growth. I cut in July so the extra few weeks may balance it out. It’s June for quality, July for quantity and I’m definitely going for quantity this year.
Another tough decision I have to deal with is cow condition. I opened bales two months early last year. I was buying in by January; prices went up, availability and quality went down. I had to decide which unit got the attention and which just got by. I decided the finishing unit got preference. These are animals that will bring income this year and this is a business. It is a lot harder to correct finishing than it is to correct cow nutrition. If I don’t maintain a steady per kg gain, the finishers I won’t make my targets; so they got the best of the feed and are looking great. The cows, on the other hand, got whatever was available. When I let them out two weeks ago they didn’t look great; some even looked poor. I watched and waited as grass did what it does best. I also fill a trough daily with rolled oats, a favourite with the ladies!
Someone recommended dairy nuts pre-calving to bring on the bag. I might try a bag of it but will not give dairy nuts to a suckler cow as it goes straight through to the calf which in my case cannot handle that strong milk. So maybe a fistful each to supplement but cut back once the bag comes on and definitely cut it out once she calves. Not very scientific but if it works its gospel!
After two weeks, the cows are starting to bloom. One heifer is still way behind so I isolated her, wormed her and gave a vitamin dose plus extra oats as she was getting pushed off the trough. She’s improved but I’m in no way comfortable with her condition. She will be calving an F2 Wagyu (75%) which is a valuable calf so I want her to be able for it. Milk will be the biggest problem if she calves in poor condition. The one quarter on her dam side is Holstein so I’m expecting a bag provided she converts the nutrition I'm giving. She calves within ten days. I have a system here of recording gestation and birth weight as part of the breed profiling for my Full-blood Wagyu Bull and the AI I use. I record every covering and AI and can accurately determine calving date which is 283-5 days. This has been consistent for five years breeding here.
I put heifers in-calf first - this way if a heifer is struggling with milk there will at least be the availability from the older cows coming shortly. Wagyu are known as multi-suckers and it is easier for a hungry, older calf to get onto another’s freshly calved teat than it is for a weak newborn to try and suck from a different bonded mother. If all else fails I can even draw milk but let’s just hope I’m not writing about that in a few weeks’ time!
Next week: The mystery of Finishing Wagyu revealed!