The following article has been prepared by Christopher Breen, Teagasc
Traditionally August is the month for reseeding. Before starting any work consider:
- If drainage repair is needed?
- Is ploughing necessary or does soil compaction need addressing?
- Using soil analysis to determine the correct lime and fertiliser needed.
- Using grass varieties with similar heading dates which are suitable for the intended use.
- Using a maximum of four grass varieties.
Minimal cultivation and stitching-in techniques can be used to establish new or renovate existing swards.
Minimal cultivation - if the old sward contains scutch, destroy it before cultivation. Following hard grazing (3-5 cm) or silage cutting, spray off the regrowth. About a week later (follow product recommendation) drill the seed into a shallow tilth prepared by harrowing the surface and rolling afterwards.Stitching-in - use this technique to improve swards with a significant proportion of perennial ryegrass. It is particularly suitable for open silage swards or stony ground. Most drills sow grass seed into existing swards. Minimise competition from the existing grass sward by hard grazing or mowing for silage immediately before seeding. Inspect all reseeds for signs of pest damage, particularly fruit fly and leather jackets.
Close up dry cows
The last four weeks of the dry cow period are the most critical in terms of establishing the subsequent lactation. If dry cows have been grazed, they should be housed for the last four weeks of pregnancy.
A low calcium diet stimulates the cow to mobilise calcium from her own body reserves coming up to calving reducing the risk of milk fever, the Dietary Cation Anion Balance diet.
Body condition dictates the amount and quantity of feeding. Ideally, cows should be condition score 3. If cows are too fat or too thin, alter their feed to allow them to achieve this condition score at calving.
Fibrous silage and straw are good for keeping the rumen expanded and working. However, as the cow approaches calving, her intake declines and concentrates should also be fed.
Usually the ‘close up’ Greenmount dry cows are offered 1.0-2.0 kg of a pre-calver feed. Up to one week before calving, they are moved to straw bedded pens where they are fed the same diet as the milking cows.
Improving your cow housing
The next few months could provide the last opportunity to make any housing changes before winter. Assess your dairy unit with a view to improving cow comfort and easing management. Cubicles should be sized for the largest cows in your herd, remember they are metal furniture! Suggested dimensions for a 600 kg cow are:
|With (clear)||Stall length||Neck Rail Height||Brisket Board from Kerb|
|Side Lunge||Forward Lunge|
|1100 - 1180 mm||213 mm||2440 mm||1050 mm||1680 mm|
The bed should slope 100 mm from front to back and the kerb depth should be between 150 mm and 200 mm. Trials show that cow lying time increases with the softness of the bed so try kneeling on the cubicle bed. If you feel any discomfort then it needs upgrading.
Do not overlook simple things that have a bearing on feed intake, milk yield and fertility. These include ventilation, condition of floors, feed space, cow flow, adequate water and lighting.August jobs checklist
- Top grazing swards containing old dead grass or seed heads to maintain sward quality.
- Calibrate parlour and out of parlour feeders to ensure accurate feeding.
- Consider reseeding fields that are not performing well.
- Apply lime where necessary and the appropriate fertiliser based on soil analysis results.
- Assess heifer performance – are they performing to meet desired targets?
By Christopher Breen, Teagasc