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February farm tech tips: Agronomy, animal nutrition and health

February farm tech tips: Agronomy, animal nutrition and health

February farm tech tips: Agronomy, animal nutrition and health

 

  • In maize, monitor for late-season pests (tropical armyworm and corn earworm) plus yellow bristle grass (YBG), maize rust and northern leaf blight.
  • Pasture walk looking for summer grasses and YBG and treat where necessary. YBG continues to germinate through the summer. If you see seedheads it’s too late to treat, so mow rather than spray.
  • Walk pastures and condition score to prioritise a re-grassing programme. Plan now so you don’t have to rush establishment.
  • In brassica crops, monitor for weeds and pests in late-sown brassica crops and treat accordingly. Look for invasion by white butterfly, diamond back moth and aphids that can devastate crops over summer.
  • Remember Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and beneficial insects help reduce pest numbers so factor this in when selecting an insecticide.
  • Foliar applied nutrients deliver specific nutrient(s) when the crop requires it. These fertilisers are generally applied through spray boom nozzles directly onto the plant leaf.
  • Undertake herbage tests on brassicas to identify any deficiencies before applying foliar micronutrients.
  • An insecticide can be applied at the same time as the foliar fertiliser to save time and application passes.

 

  • With ewe mating approaching formost farms, pay attention to ewebody condition.
  • Aim to have most ewes at body conditionscore (BCS) 3 to 3.5 and on a rising plainof nutrition as they go to the ram.
  • Assess feed availability now and prioritiseit for lighter ewes with a BCS of less than 3.
  • Heavy ewes greater than BCS of 3.5require only maintenance.
  • Avoid grazing pasture with high amountsof dead material, as fungal components are higher. The risk of high intakes of zearalenone increases; a fungal toxin known to decrease ovulation rates.
  • If feed budgets are tight, consideroffloading remaining trade lambs toprioritise feed for ewes as they providenext year’s profit.
  • Often on breeding farms, there are toomany trade lambs carried into autumn.Doing this sacrifices ewe condition andreduces overall profitability.
  • Worm burdens become problematic inautumn, so monitor in ewes and lambsvia egg counts.
  • Ensure adequate selenium and iodinesupplementation occurs pre-mating inareas where a deficiency may occur.
  • Ensure rams have been shorn at least a month prior to mating and are sound in their feet.
  • If considering mating ewe lambs, target greater than 40 kg at mating to achieve better outcomes.

 

  • In February, milk production can drop significantly.
  • Silage and stalky summer pasture can be high in fibre and may limit dry matter intake due to gut-fill. Focus on maintaining pasture quality as it helps maintain production.
  • Low-effective fibre concentrate supplements help maintain dry matter intake.
  • Insufficient protein levels in the diet may result in cows partitioning more energy into building body condition at the detriment of milk production. If cows are building body condition and not maintaining production, investigate the protein levels of pasture and supplement if necessary.
  • Heat stress can cause cow’s milk volume and milk components to crash. Allow plenty of shade.
  • Water is crucial for dry matter intake and minimising the impact of heat stress. Ensure there is good access to water. Consider having extra water troughs along the races.
  • If high levels of minerals are added to water, consider using flavouring to encourage the uptake of water.
  • Reduce walking distance in the heat of the day where possible.