Herd Tasks: Your weekly farming checklist

Your weekly reminder of the things that should be at the top of your farm to-do list. Published every Monday on the Irish Examiner digital Farming hub.
Herd Tasks: Your weekly farming checklist

If the silage available is poor, it will significantly delay finishing stock.

Monday, November 27 – Sunday, December 3

All stock

  • Many cattle are overheating indoors with the recent mild spell — consider clipping strips of hair along their backs and cleaning off their tails.
  • Open doors etc where possible to improve ventilation in sheds.
  • Pneumonia is very common — keep a close eye on recently housed or weaned stock in particular.
  • It may be worth your while to implement a vaccination programme.
  • The presence of worms may also be contributing to respiratory issues.


  • In autumn calvers, driving intake must continue to be your priority to boost milk and fertility performance.
  • Consistent nutrition is the way to achieve the required performance based on the cow's genetic potential.
  • If silage is not good quality, significant supplementation will be a must.
  • Spring calvers are unfortunately struggling on available silages. Most silages can’t support much more than maintenance plus three or four litres. Many are even below maintenance and will require significant supplementation.


  • With such mild weather, many calves are coughing — monitor this carefully as you may need to treat the group.
  • Autumn calves should be creep-fed where possible at this stage. This will make it a little easier to get their mothers back in calf.
  • A good-quality creep ration will help to develop the young rumen and encourage them to increase their dry matter intake in addition to milk.
  • A clean rack of straw is the best roughage to feed to calves — hay is not great for rumen development in young calves.
  • Start feeding a good-quality dry cow mineral at least four to five weeks before calving commences.
  • If you had issues around calving last spring, then discuss them before implementing your dry cow management strategy.


  • Get finishers settled on a consistent diet and continue to monitor lead indicators such as dung consistency, cud chewing and total dry matter Intake. If the silage available is poor, it will significantly delay finishing stock. Adjust your diet accordingly to achieve the required slaughter date.

Compiled by Brian Reidy, an independent ruminant nutritionist at Premier Farm Nutrition.

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Karen Walsh

Karen Walsh

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