When we sowed half a field with winter rape in August, it was so dry that the plow had trouble sticking into the ground to make a proper turf.
Two months later we seeded the other half with winter oats in good conditions but due to overnight flooding the field was a sheet of water.
Some of the seed and soil definitely washed into the lower parts of the field. But surprisingly the harvest is high and well established. Hopefully it didn’t suffer any significant side effects.
It helps that this is a free-draining field and the surface water had receded within 24 hours.
Our winter barley was sown about a month ago in surprisingly good conditions considering the amount of rain that has fallen.
We used to sow winter barley in mid to late September, but due to the risk of barley yellowworm virus, it is now recommended to avoid early sowing.
No matter how good our winter barley looks during the growing season, it generally doesn’t live up to our expectations and I wonder how much of that is due to sowing a month later.
If there was a barley variety that was resistant to BYDV, we would definitely try it.
It was a real struggle to sow the winter wheat. At one point it looked like this wasn’t going to happen at all due to the amount of rain that was falling at the time.
But we noticed two things: The soil we sowed on hadn’t been touched since the harvest, so it plowed well.
And our contractor could come with three ploughs, a grader and a seeder if there was a small opportunity. Thus any soil that was plowed was sown almost immediately.
In addition, every field that was started was finished, so there were no more headlands to clean up.
All I had to do was keep the seed attracted to them.
Despite all the rain it didn’t seem to shift the stones so we’ll have to go back and pick them at some point.
While all of this was happening, we started bringing in the cows. It’s all in now except for a group of 15 month old heifers just getting some paddocks readyand will be accommodated soon.
Regardless of the weather, as we calve in the fall, October-November is our peak breeding season so it is important to keep the cows in a positive energy balance. So we always accommodate them until the end of October.
In our system the cows are housed but the calves have 24/7 access to the field. It never ceases to amaze me that the calves manage this within a few hours The crawl gate gives them access to the field. They spend a lot of time in the pasture.
Buffer feed is also available in their own lying area in the barn.
The cows receive a diet of silage, 2 kg of straw, 2 kg of oats and a milk mineral. When the breeding season is over we need to adjust this diet as they move through the silage at an alarming rate. Luckily we have plenty of good straw.
All calves are overdue for their booster with Bovipast. Hopefully we can get that sorted out this week.
In general, however, we were satisfied with the health of the cows and calves when we housed them. I especially liked the calves.
All cows and calves are being treated for lice and the rest of the cattle will be treated over the next few weeks, with the exception of the beef bulls, many of whom will be gone by the end of the year. The cows are also treated for leeches.
I last wrote that we would sell the bulls at a younger age than before.
We’ve sold quite a few under 15 months and what has amazed me is that we haven’t really compromised on carcass weight. The animals sold so far have an average carcass weight of 390 kg.
Fat scores are also on par with other years.
The bulls that are still in the stable are very satisfied and seem to be doing very well. But I didn’t realize how well they were doing until last week when we weighed a group of 36 people and they had gained an average of 2.6kg per day for the past 23 days.
But we don’t want to get carried away. Can they maintain this level of performance?
Although the first bulls slaughtered had eaten no more than 0.6 t of ration, the acid test will be the average carcass weight and average concentrate consumption of the whole group.
The younger bulls will eat a lot more concentrates and this is likely to have a negative impact on the average weight as well.
Robin Talbot farms in Ballacolla, Co. Laois with his mother Pam and wife Ann
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/beef/beef-advice/robin-talbot-why-we-house-all-our-cows-before-the-end-of-october-42136044.html Robin Talbot: Why we house all our cows before the end of October