Monthly ‘must do’s’: January 2012

1) Keep an eye on cattle

Monitor finishing cattle constantly by regular handling and weighing once the new year kicks in, says EBLEX selection specialist Steve Powdrill.

“Yarded cattle often kill fatter than expected in January and February, due to the cumulative effect of the finishing ration.

“This happens most years and is worth bearing in mind when selecting cattle for slaughter. Don’t sell on weight alone. Get the best price by delivering the combination of conformation, fat class and weight your buyer is looking for.

2) Funding Deadline

Livestock producers have until 17 January 2012 to apply for RDPE-funded technology improvement grants of up to 40% through the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS).

Technologies that may be eligible for funding include cluster flush systems, weigh cells, heat recovery systems and slurry separators.

Find out more here

3) 2012 training schedule

Now is a good time for pig producers to review their team’s training and development needs and plan for the coming year, says Tess Howe, BPEX skills development manager.

Units may have new stockmen or managers wanting a structured training programme, staff looking for specific technical workshops nearby or some help with performance recording.

Contact Tess Howe for a chat about the opportunities available, 07779 321078, or visit and click on “training”.

4) Feeding ewes in late pregnancy

70% of foetal growth takes place in the last eight weeks of pregnancy, making this stage vital for a successful lamb crop, says EBLEX’s Liz Genever

“At this time, the ewe’s energy and protein requirements increase rapidly.

“However, as lambs grow, the ewe’s ability to eat bulk reduces. Therefore, the nutrient density of the ration must be increased gradually to keep pace with foetal requirements.

For more information, read the BRP manual Target ewe fertility for better returns.

5) Mending and maintenance

Now is the time to repair any cracks, holes and broken sides in buildings and outdoor huts to prevent loss of heat and avoid draughts, says Colin Stone, BPEX knowledge transfer manager.

“If pigs are cold they will use energy to generate heat, which can result in decreased productivity.

“Check building insulation and repair or replace if necessary – this will not only improve the environment for pigs but also help save on the energy bill.”

6) Testing soil

Soil testing can provide valuable information that will improve the long term productivity of your land and save money, advises Mary Vickers of EBLEX.

“Significant savings can be made through more targeted use of fertilisers, FYM and slurries,” she says.

“Sample every five years and at least two months after the last application of manure, fertiliser or lime. And don’t forget soil pH can have a major effect on crop and grass yields.”

For more information, read the BRP manual Improving soils for better returns.

7) Wean to gain

Reduce stress at weaning and improve pig performance by focusing on feed, water and environment, says Lis Ravn, BPEX knowledge transfer manager.

• Heat the room to the correct temperature before weaned pigs go in

• Ensure adequate feeding and drinking space – use additional feed troughs and water trays for the first few days

• Supply fresh water several times a day.

See 2TS Action for Productivity no. 9: Establishing the weaner

See our previous monthly must do’s