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OCTOBER 2019
Management Hints
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
OCTOBER 2019
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
Management Hints
Messages:
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The farming year starts in October.
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Assess BCS of cows and act.
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X
Carefully manage the last grazing
rotation to targets.
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X
Avoid soil compaction/damage at all cost.
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X
Reduce your tax bill by planning.
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X
Be on top of replacement heifer
management in October.
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Analyse soil and feed and assess your
winter feed requirements.
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Be aware of your responsibilities
to habitats and biodiversity.
By Matt Ryan
The Planning Year starts Now
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Many of the decisions and actions you take in October
have a big influence on how profitable 2020 will be for
you. What are the key decisions?
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Body condition (BCS) of herd.
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When and which cows to dry off in October,
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Building and maintaining autumn grass until
November,
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Investment steps needed to minimise your 2019 tax
bill.
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Analysis of silage for DMD and mineral levels,
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Soil analysis so as no field has a ph of less than 6.3 or
below Index 4 for P & K.
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Are replacement heifers on target?
Assess Body Condition Score and Act
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Cows should be BCS six times of the year and this is the
FIRST and probably the most important. Why?
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If cows calve down thin they will not readily go back
in calf and neither will they milk well next year
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For every 50 kgs (1 condition score = 40-50kgs) below
target, a cow will milk 450 litres of milk less than her
potential.
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If you have thin cows identified in October you have a
few management options to rectify it:
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Dry off now to allow her have a long dry period to put
on weight.
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With 120 days to calving for February calvers, no
meals will be needed with good silage.
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Go on once - a - day milking (OAD) now.
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Feed low a low protein ration,
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If you wait until November to deal with thin cows you
have only one option - that is, feed a lot of meals during
the dry period which is inefficient and expensive.
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To get an accurate assessment of BCS put all cows
through the cattle crush to handle them in tail head, ribs,
short ribs and backbone.
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If you don't know how to do it (simple ­assess body
fat on the cow) or need an update, get your Adviser or
Discussion Group to show you: There are people out
there who do it for a fee.
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The target BCS at drying off is 3.0 ­ 3.25.
Generally they will calve down in same condition as
dried off ,
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Cows with a BCS of 2.75 or less now, must be `earmarked'
for special attention.
As she has a deficit of 0.5 BCS, at least 25 kg below
target condition, therefore she will have to be fed an
extra 130kg meal (5-6 time the weight required) if meal
feeding is the option you choose.
This means feeding 2 kgs ration/hd/day for 10 weeks;
discount the first two weeks after drying off and the last
two weeks before calving.
Therefore, she needs 14 weeks dry period.
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Which cows should be dried off from 15th October on?
Cows in BCS less than 2.75,
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1st lactation cow calving in January/February.
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Cows milking less than 7- 8 litre or 0.6kgs MS/hd/day.
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Cows with SCC's greater than 300,000.
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All these cows should either be housed, sold or
moved to outside blocks but off the grazing platform
to allow all available grass for milking cows.
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Remember, the only way to improve the body condition
of high genetic merit cows, which are thin the whole year,
is to give them a long dry period, starting now.
The Last Grazing Rotation
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The last rotation management is crucial in setting up the
farm for next year's grazing:
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Grazing very heavy covers and/or leaving too high
covers at closing will result in very poor growth until
May of next year.
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Its management will influence the amount of meal
you will feed this side of Christmas and the first half
of next year.
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Every extra kg DM cover left at closing increases grass
availability by 12kg DM. in the spring. Therefore, operate
closely to the farm covers recommendations in Table1.
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Every day extra cows graze in autumn delivers 2.20 per
cow per day extra profit.
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As the last rotation will be 45-50 days from start to finish,
you must decide on your closing date. If closing is the
20th November, then the last rotation should start on
10th October.
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Too many farmers are completing the last rotation too
early and losing significant profits. This is particularly so
for farmers who have wet land and are not committed to
wet weather grazing techniques.
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The last rotation must begin on 1-16th October, earliest
(and probably earlier) in wet land. If that doesn't happen
you won't have grass next spring. Spring is when you
need grass most, as you will be trying to maintain milk
yield and increase body condition as cheaply as possible.
Therefore, plan your paddock grazing strategy now.
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The first paddocks to be grazed next spring must be dry,
be near the milking parlour and have 1400 ­ 1600 Kgs
DM/ha of grass cover.
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Therefore, they must be the first paddocks to be grazed
on the last rotation. If they haven't enough grass on
them, skip other paddocks so as to graze them in early
October. Simple exercise but it will save you a lot of
hassle next February.
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You are now on last rotation, to finish on dry land on
20-25 November (2-3 weeks earlier on wet land). Each
paddock must be well grazed out to 3.5 - 4.0 cms (if you