Farmer Focus Livestock: Bryan Griffiths experiments with cattle diet

The scanner revealed more triplets than singles, and a dozen empty ewes. All 12, young and old alike, were in the cull market the next morning. We have sorted ewes according to the scan results and started feeding 18% cake to the earlier lambers and all triplets.

With the focus now on next season, we have had a final round up of hoggets and were pleased when the kill sheet for the total clearance showed the lightest at 16kg, only a few O grades and for the first time ever not a single kilo condemned due to arthritis. If only we knew what we did right.

Having sold all last years crop it is interesting to note that of all the lambs detected at scanning one in 10 did not make it to sale. This was through no particular disaster or disease epidemic, just the usual trail of mishaps throughout the year.

Throughout this winter we have had difficulty keeping a dry bed under the cattle. This is in part due to a habit developed in the last three wet summers of snatching silage, with little wilting, whenever there is 24 hours dry forecast. Forage analysis reports on grass crops taken in early June, after five or six weeks growth, are good but while stock is all looking well, the cattle dung is rather loose. We are currently experimenting with the inclusion of sugar beet shreds into the diet.

The problem of wet bedding was exacerbated by the snow last month and in particular the easterly blizzard which found its way into most of the buildings. It has become apparent our carefully metered straw stocks will not see us through, so we have had an extra load delivered while local supplies are still available.

• For more columns from Bryan Griffiths

• For more columns from other Livestock Farmer Focus writers

See more