Maximise space and minimise feed costs this Winter
September 21, 2021
As we approach the season for housing your cattle, it’s a good time to consider how to maximise space and manage feed costs over the Winter.
Scanning cows as soon as they are housed allows identification of barren animals that can be removed from the herd or managed separately to cull. Removing them early (not leaving them in to the end of the calving period) maximises space for cows in calf and, importantly, keeps feed costs down. Cows can be reliably scanned as long as they have been away from the bull for at least a month.
We can use the same visit to identify & abort young heifers. Heifers that get in calf too young will have serious checks on their growth and may also require caesareans. Please don’t hope for the best, as heifers have been known to get in calf as young as 4 months old, especially if there is a rogue bull calf about! Heifers need to be away from any bulls for at least 7 days for the abortion injection to be effective.
Manage the risks from TB
As well as non-pregnant hangers-on, getting cattle TB tested before the housing season (and TB testing season) is an important management tool. Unfortunately, TB has become a real challenge in this area recently, with many more herds experiencing a breakdown.
Pre-movement testing (or culling) any surplus cattle before the main TB test is a good way of reducing pressure on farm if the herd is placed under restriction.
Removing these cattle also helps limit the effects of a breakdown by
- Maintaining cash flow
- Reducing feed/straw costs
- Reducing the number of cattle at subsequent tests and
- Reducing stocking densities to decrease the risk of disease (such as pneumonia, scours and lameness).