WHEN the Single Farm Payment came into effect in 2005 entitlements became an asset separate from the land. Commonly the farm was left in the will to the child who was working the farm and the remaining assets left to the other children. Unintentionally in many situations on the death of the parents the farm passed to the son/daughter who was farming it without entitlements and the entitlements along with the remaining assets were divided among the other children who had no land on which to draw them down.
It is very important when making your will that you specify to whom you wish to transfer the entitlements as well as to whom you wish to transfer the land and other assets. If it is some time since you have checked the details of your will do so now to make sure that you are not unknowingly creating unnecessary problems for the next generation.
Grazing the Silage Ground to Improve Silage Quality
The main rationale for grazing the silage ground in spring is to lengthen the grazing season, using relatively cheap spring grass, rather than more expensive silage and improve animal performance by providing cattle with a high quality feed, with a feeding value of 85% that of concentrates rather than a moderate quality feed with a feeding value of about 40% that of concentrates.
Getting three weeks feed off the silage ground in spring results in three weeks less silage, so why turn grass that can be grazed into silage which results in a three-fold increase in costs and a reduction of a similar magnitude in animal gain.
There is constant turnover of leaf on grass plants, although at a low rate, over the winter. As a result of the good grass growing conditions over the winter and in some cases not being able to fully graze out pastures fully last autumn there may be a substantial amount of dead or decayed material at the base of swards. This needs to be cleaned off rather than leaving it in the silage crop. Where it is removed, the silage sward will be produced from newly grown leaf with a high quality potential if harvested at a leafy stage.
Studies at Grange have shown that the removal of high grass covers off silage fields in early spring will improve silage digestibility by 3-4 units if harvested by the end of May but is likely to reduce silage yield by 15%. However, there is no overall reduction in herbage production. You will have utilized the 15% loss of silage as grazed grass before closing. Very severe grazing, (for example down to 3 cm with sheep), or grazing into mid April will have a more severe effect on silage yield (up to a 25% reduction) by the end of May. If you want to maintain silage yields, while still grazing before closing, you can delay the harvest date by about a week without loss of digestibility.
If you are now just starting to graze the silage ground and it has not got nitrogen or slurry to date, then it is better to graze first and apply the nitrogen after grazing. Where no nitrogen has been applied, a good ryegrass sward should get up to 125kg per ha (100 units/ac). If it has got early nitrogen allow for about one third of this remaining and adjust the nitrogen rate for silage accordingly. There may be an opportunity to spread slurry after grazing if conditions are good and if you can get it on while the sward is bare. Each 1000 gal cattle slurry is worth about 4kg (8 units) of chemical nitrogen and the equivalent of 1 bag 0. 7. 30.
Where grazing conditions are difficult and where possible (if convenient to a shed or yard) on/off grazing can be practiced with suckler cows. They should be turned out hungry, allowed to graze for 3-4 hours and then brought in again. However in many cases this is not possible. Giving a daily allowance rather than a 3-4 day allowance in a square plot of ground rather than a long narrow rectangular plot will cause much less damage, less soiling and give better utilization. The disadvantage of the 3-4 day paddock is that from the second day onwards the grass starts to get soiled, then cattle do even more trampling and soiling of pasture, lower intake and refusal to graze out the pasture. The alternative might be to spread stock out over all the silage ground (set stocking) giving less concentration of stock during wet periods and less damage but possibly lower utilization and more residual grass left behind at the time of closing.
Health issues at lambing
Watery mouth: Watery mouth and / or E. coli scour are diseases associated with lambs receiving insufficient colostrum and poor hygiene. Fresh clean bedding is a must. Cleanings should be removed as quickly as possible.
Naval infections: The freshly broken umbilical cord is wet with blood. Blood is an ideal medium for the multiplication and spread of bacteria. The bacteria gain access to the body via the broken cord leading to infections in many parts of the body. Navel-ill and joint-ill are just two such infections. The navel should be dipped in disinfectant. Tincture of iodine is one of the most reliable products. This both disinfects the navel and dries it out preventing further infection. Dips are generally more successful than sprays.
Coccidiosis: Coccidiosis tends to become a problem from about week three post lambing. If possible late born lambs should not be grazed on pastures that earlier born lambs previously grazed. This is particularly important if there is a long lambing spread.
Hygiene at Lambing: Continue to clean out and disinfect lambing pens after each time they are used. This becomes more important as the season progresses due to the build up of infection. Lime works well to disinfect the pens. Use plenty of straw. Lambs have a much better chance of survival when born into dry, clean conditions. Ewes will lick lambs more vigorously; the lambs will become dry, stand and suck more quickly. While lambs remain wet they are more likely to develop hypothermia.
Colostrum: Lambs should receive 50ml of colostrum per kg body weight in the first hour (250ml for a 5kg lamb). After lambing, check that each ewe has a good supply. If not or if the lamb is unable to suck you should feed the lamb using a stomach tube, preferably with colostrum taken from freshly lambed ewes. A store of this in the freezer would be very useful.
Ewe lambs rearing lambs
Many farmers have young ewes lambing down as yearlings this spring. Nutritional requirements are different from mature ewes. During mid pregnancy, ewe lambs require top quality feeding as they are still growing. The aim is to cater for this growth and have these young ewes at a condition score of about 3, six weeks before lambing. In late pregnancy it is important not to over feed ewe lambs. Mature ewes carrying twins, on ad-lib silage (70% DMD) should get about 0.7 kg concentrates before lambing. For ewe lambs carrying twins, this should be reduced to about 0.5 kg. It may be worth feeding a flat rate of 0.5 kg for the last 5 to 6 weeks, and half of this for ewe lambs carrying singles.
After lambing, treat ewe lambs as a separate flock with access to top quality grass. Consider supplementing with meals for three weeks post lambing, especially if rearing twins or grass is scarce.
Derogation Reminder -The closing date for receipt of completed derogation applications in 2012 is March 31. The Fertilisation Plan (Derogation Plan) for your farm should also be submitted with the Nitrates Derogation application form, unless you have an approved REPS 4 plan in place OR unless you had an approved 2010 or 2011 Nitrates Derogation application.
If you were approved for derogation in 2011 you must submit the fertiliser records for your farm to the Dept. of Agriculture by March 31.
Teagasc, Kildalton College Careers Day Friday, March 23
Students and parents will have the opportunity to see the college and apply for courses when Kildalton College holds its careers day on Friday 23rd March 2012. Tours of the college facilities will start at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. This is an ideal opportunity for potential students and career guidance counsellors to get more details about the range of courses offered. Application forms and selection procedure details will be available on the day.