1) Sward test
July is a really good time to give your swards a good MOT – with a few months ahead to sort out any problems, says Chris Duller, DairyCo extension officer.
“If you are measuring grass, total up your growth figures. By 1 July you should have grown at least 60% of your annual total – so if you’re not up to 6t DM/ha by now, maybe all is not well.
“Check through your grazing records so far – which paddocks have kept their place in the rotation and which ones have slipped or maybe had one or two fewer grazings?
“Also, assess your clover content – is there a case for oversowing? Current conditions are good for introducing new seed. With recent rainfall, most soils are moist enough to get a spade in the ground and have a dig – check out rooting depth and worm numbers.”
2) Manage gut and lung worm risk
July and August are high-risk periods for gut worms and lung worms, advises EBLEX livestock scientist, Poppy Frater.
“Single-suckled calves grazing with mothers are not usually at risk, because the cows act to reduce worm challenge on the pasture, so target other youngstock in their first and second grazing seasons,” she says.
“Put them to clean grazing pastures – new leys or those that have been grazed by sheep.”
3) Maintain feed intakes in the heat
Pig producers should check ventilation to guarantee optimal air flow to reduce room temperature. Failure to do so could reduce feed intakes, warns Lis Ravn, BPEX knowledge transfer manager.
“For finishing pigs above 50kg, feed intake can be reduced at temperatures higher than 20C. Make sure there are enough drinking points and clean, easy-to-access water.
“Cooling systems such as sprinklers, shades or wallows can help and farmers should speak to a nutritionist about diet specification.”
4) Drying-off protocols
With autumn-block calvers getting ready to dry off, now is the perfect time to review your drying-off protocol with your vet, says Izak van Heerden, DairyCo extension officer.
“Separate cows to be dried off and bring them back into the parlour after washdown. Ensure everything is scrupulously clean and use new gloves to avoid introducing a new infection at the point of drying off.
“With the responsible use of antibiotics high on everyone’s agenda, this is a step in the right direction to reduce dry cow antibiotic use,” he says.