Monthly must dos for June

BEEF AND SHEEP

Select the best grass varieties

Choosing grasses from the 2014 Recommended Grass and Clover Lists (RGCL) enables producers to select the best varieties for their particular system, according to Eblex’s Dr Liz Genever.

“The RGCL give details on the performance and characteristics of each variety, helping producers make informed decisions about which one suits them best,” she adds.

“This year’s lists include seven new grass varieties and one new red clover, all of which have been rigorously tested for factors such as yield, feed quality, disease, and persistence.”

The 2014 RGCL can be downloaded from the Eblex website.

Analyse your flock records

If you haven’t already sat down to analyse your figures, now is a great time to review the season, advises Eblex’s Katie Brian.

“It’s important to ask yourself whether your ewes are becoming more efficient on your system,” she says.

“If not, actions need to be put in place to improve your returns.

“By this time of year, you should have recorded the number of lambs scanned, born and turned out. At weaning, record the number of lambs weaned, then work out your rearing percentage.

“Simple calculations will indicate how your flock is performing. You can also spot trends by comparing the data between years.”

For more information, download the Eblex BRP poster, Sheep Records for Better Returns, or input your figures directly into the Ewe Flock KPI Calculator.


DAIRY

Cow performance

The genetics of your cows is of major influence, not only on their yields and conformation, but also on their fertility, SCC and longevity, says Marco Winters, Breeding specialist at DairyCo.

“There are many genetic indexes available today to help you breed the right cow for your future needs. In fact, choosing the right bull to use for AI is the single most important decision in establishing your future herd’s potential.

“With a revised Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI) and a brand new Spring Calving Index (£SCI) being introduced in August, now is a good time to benchmark critical areas to target for genetic improvement in your dairy herd.

“If you are milk recording, you can register for a Herd Genetic Report at the DairyCo Breeding+ website. Here you can find your current individual cow lactation average and overall herd’s potential and ensure you breed a cow that fits your system.”

Pre-breeding heat detection

It is important that cows conceive early in the breeding period, according to Nicky Fair, DairyCo extension officer.

“It doesn’t matter if this breeding period is set by calendar date, as in a block calving system, or by days post-calving on an all year-round system.

“Start heat detecting at least one month before you want to start serving, this allows you to pick out problem cows that may need to be looked at by the vet or identified as poor breeders. Having a reference heat will also improve the accuracy of heat detection for first service.”


PIGS

Advice on managing seasonal infertility

There are measurements pig producers can take this summer to give information about sows at risk of seasonal infertility, so their management can be adapted and reproductive loss reduced, according to Charlotte West, BPEX knowledge transfer manager.

Roundness, returns and replacements are “the three Rs” to focus on recording. Body condition scoring at farrowing and weaning will help identify sows that are at risk of losing condition during lactation. A fertility chart gives a real-time farrowing rate record and identifies when sows are returning. Recording dates of oestrus on simple recording sheets and colour coding gilts using spray marker helps keep track of replacement gilts coming into the system.

Remember the drying stage at cleaning

The drying stage of any pig building cleaning and disinfection protocol is critical, as many bacteria and viruses cannot persist in dry conditions, says Helen Clarke, veterinary team leader. If possible, producers should allow up to seven days’ drying time before restocking, which can reduce the bacterial load tenfold. If this is not practical they should allow at least 24 hours.

For more information download the Bpex factsheet Action for Productivity no.10: Cleaning and disinfection