Bretts of Callan launched their unique Ruminant Support Service in autumn 2014 and with the difficult conditions experienced this spring the service is proving invaluable to livestock farmers across the county.
Heather Peppard has held the position of Nutritionist since 2006 and she explains why Bretts launched this exciting and innovative service. Heather says “We seen a real need to disseminate cutting edge technical advice on an individual bases at farm level. With the full support of the Bretts Senior Management team we developed the Ruminant Support Service to offer practical solutions, based on sound and scientific research, to dairy, beef and sheep farmers. Ruminant Support Specialists, Michael Foley and David Lawrence, visit farms and help clients to optimise animal productivity by improving soil fertility, grassland management, nutrition and animal health. With less than 10% of livestock farmers measuring grass our team help farmers on the ground get to grips with their own grassland management, improve silage quality and complement the forage with a balanced feeding regime.” Heather says that many farmers are uncomfortable seeking technical advice but she assures local Kilkenny farmers that Bretts technical team are available to deal with the smallest of problems and clients just need to contact one of the Kilkenny Sales Representatives, Michael Barron, John Dillon and PJ Barron to avail of this service.
Speaking of recent farm visits Ruminant Support Specialists, Michael and David, have noted a significant improvement in grazing conditions in the past week and this is extremely important for dairy and suckler farmers as breeding commences.
If weather conditions are not ideal the shoulders of the grazing season, early spring and late autumn, are proving to be stressful times on farmers and livestock and Michael and David are available to offer advice on grass budgeting and practical solutions to get through periods of grass deficits. The focus at present is to keep dairy cows on a rising plane of nutrition throughout the breeding season. All livestock farmers need to turn their attention to making good quality silage for the winter ahead and David Lawrence says “Harvest date is the vital step in ensuring highly digestible silage. A 65% DMD silage means that only 65% of silage eaten is digestible and the other 35% is not available for meat or milk production.” The weather has led to paddocks being closed off very late and Michael Foley encourages clients to seek advice about fertiliser applications. Michael recommends applying normal levels of P and K but to reduce the units of nitrogen depending on fertiliser and slurry already spread. Every good growing day utilises 2 units of nitrogen so do calculations between spreading and harvest date to ensure that harvesting date will not be delayed as a consequence of high nitrogen. The heading date on the majority of grasses is late May/early June and the aim is to cut the main silage crop before heading commences.