At least two or three times per week, walk through all
animals in pens watching out for:
Animals not feeding when others are;
Lame or `tender' animals (remove from group and treat);
Empty animals (is she/he sick?);
Injury (remove from group immediately);
Bullying (take out the bully as they prevent resting and
Lice, coughing, scratching, etc (dose and/or treat);
Dribbling, etc (check for infectious bovine rhinotracheitis
[IBR] and pneumonia);
Abortions (check if salmonella is the cause).
Cows should be put through the footbath on three
consecutive days, once per month, to prevent lameness.
All vaccinations, where possible, should be done in January
to reduce the workload in February-March (Zoetis promoted
this concept at the Dairy Day).
If you haven't vaccinated for leptospirosis, do it now.
Vaccinate all breeding animals, including the heifers for the
bull, in 2018. If salmonella scour was a problem in calves last
year, vaccinate now talk to your vet.
Cows that are within 30-40 days of calving should get 100g/
day of pre-calving mineral:
Ensure all cows are getting it;
So you need a wide feeding face and throw it on the silage
twice a day (three times if feeding face is less than 1.5ft/
The beneficial effect of the dry cow mastitis tube is now
Cow is at greater risk of mastitis;
Stress must be minimised (each cow needs one cubicle) as
her life is more stressful as she gets near calving;
Cubicle beds must be cleaned every day and passages must
be cleaned two to three times/day;
Use lime, sawdust or chopped straw on the beds.
Calving and calf houses must be `at the ready' for the
imminent calving season start:
Clean, disinfected, and well-aired without draughts;
Have your calving jack and all back-up requirements in
place, as well as all gates secure.
Body condition score (BCS): you can't do much now about
February-calving thin cows, but fat (3.4+ BCS) cows should
be put on restricted/poor-quality feed.
Yearling heifers should now be 47 per cent of their mature
body weight or approximately 260kg;
If less than that, they can make 320 mating weight target by
now feeding 2-3kg meal (18-20 per cent phosphorus [P])
with good silage.
Plans to grow more grass
We are only growing 40-50 per cent of the grass quantity we
could and must grow on our farms due to:
Poor soil fertility we should never again allow this to
enter the debate on farm walk, as it is too obvious;
Poor grass varieties;
Poor grassland and grazing management practices.
An absolute necessity now is to get a soil test done on the
whole farm as next year is too late:
Act on the recommendations. There is no point in
complaining about big tax bills if your soil is deficient in
the major nutrients.
Nitrogen: From mid-January you must apply 23 units/acre
(urea more cost-effective) on farms where cows go out to
grass mid-February. Get this chore out of the way in January.
Apply on the entire farm a major mistake many farmers
make is applying it in `dribs and drabs'.
Lime: There is no fertiliser more important than this and
it gives best value for money. I don't know what words to
use to get you to apply lime but you are wasting your time
farming without having soil pH 6.3+.
P and potash: many farmers don't know how much P and
potassium (K) to use:
As a basic requirement, apply two bags of 0:10:20 on
grazing fields and three to four bags of 0:7:30 on silage
fields (reduced with slurry use);
For Index 1 and 2, you need more;
This is simple advice act on it.
Slurry spreading: Spread from January 12 to 31, depending on
your slurry storage zone.
Use the umbilical system it is brilliant as you minimise
roadway damage, soil compaction and you free up labour.
When planning to spread fertiliser or slurry, use the weather
forecast to be sure you have two to three dry days after
Don't spread within 1.5 yards of a river, stream or well.
Analysing 2017 financial figures
Get your adviser to sit down and go through these with a
To compare your financial figures with others, you should
use common costs and common profit. But use total costs