A plan to deliver success in 2014

As this is the last article of 2013 I would like to wish all readers a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2014.

As always in farming, once one year ends the cycle begins again.

What lessons have we learned from 2013 and what are we going to change to improve our farming practice in 2014?

2013 CAN BE SUMMARISED AS FOLLOWS:

A spring with no growth!

A summer with no rain! — well, very little anyway!

An autumn with loads of grass.

A winter with no bracing cold — so far!

After this spring where silage pits were emptied, most were worried that this winter would see severe fodder shortages. Thankfully, due to phenomenal growth in late summer and autumn most have sufficient fodder saved.

Learning from 2013

It is important that we look back at records from previous years in order to improve planning for the next year. Make a list of your production results for the year relative to targets.

Calves born
Mortality rates
Disease Incidence
Vet calls for sick animals
Empty cows
Live weight gain per day
Weanlings
Stores
Finishers
Grass grown per ha
Cattle Kill out performance. Grades, Fat covers and Prices achieved.
Meal purchases
Fertilise usage
Etc … List any other things you feel are important to your business

WHAT HAPPENED IN 2013?

Crops/Forages/Feeds

Did you run out of grass at critical times in the spring and summer?
Were you happy with silage in 2013?
Was this due to drought/over stocking, etc.
Most 2013 silage is very dry but not as good as most had hoped for.
Quality was affected by the delayed cutting dates.
May cutting dates should be aimed for
Did particular fields grow less grass than others
How did crops yield this year?
What input did you change that did or did not work?

Plan now for 2014 silage

Do they need reseeding?
What is lime, P & K status?
Do they need trace elements?
Is compaction an issue?
Assess soil nutrition before planting in 2014
What is soil condition like?
Are you growing the right crops for your production system?
Did you buy on price and compromise on quality?

Livestock Performance

Was there any new disease outbreaks to be dealt with?
In suckler herds did the calving season go to plan?
Were suckler offspring of desired quality?
How well did first calving heifers perform?
What should you be vaccinating for if anything?
What was calf survival like?
Did cows clean easily?
Feeding, environment and mineral status influence this.
Did your bull(s) produce consistent quality calves?
Did you use A.I.
Did they go back in calf?
Had they grown sufficiently before calving?
Had they enough milk?
Is the finishing system the correct one for you and your farm?

Bulls vs Bullocks vs Heifers

Was the home grown forage good enough?
Was the meal quality good enough?
Was enough meal fed?
Was grass quality as it should be?
Do you need help with grassland management?
Did cows produce sufficient milk?
Was grass quality as it should be?
Were there any losses?
What were the losses caused by?

(a) Stress?
(b) Disease?

Did finishing animals grade as they should have?
Were weanlings at the desired weight for sale?
How well did bought in stock perform on the farm?
Was your parasite control strategy effective in 2013?

There are many questions for you to consider regarding your system.
Every year is different and some are more different than others!
Each farming year brings new challenges meaning that what works in one year may not work the next.
Each year new technologies and methods are introduced, and these generally need to be embraced.
Production efficiency is critical on a beef farm and must be strived for at all times. Improving profitability is the name of the game and the more you get right the more likely you are to achieve optimum returns.


Lifestyle

Sorting out Posh Cork for ages!Ask Audrey: 'I'll end up looking like a woman from Kanturk'

Cork architect Loïc Dehaye tells Eve Kelliher how he created his dream home from a blank canvas.'It was like this house was waiting for us': Cork architect talks creating his dream home

Keeping to a routine can be difficult for people in quarantine.Life on the inside: 10 ways to start your day right in lockdown

Who needs a gym when you can look in your kitchen cupboards for equipment instead?Don’t have weights for working out? These household objects will do the trick

More From The Irish Examiner