Must-do livestock tasks for April


Preventing mastitis in dry cows

Cows are most susceptible to mastitis in the first two weeks after drying off, therefore the management of preventing mastitis in dry cows should be as good as that of lactating cows, according to DairyCo extension officer Amy Fawcett.

Many spring-block herds are already in the thick of calving and whether you’re block- or year-round calving, management of cows in the run-up to and at the point of calving is critical.

“Drying off should be done after milking, in a clean and sterile parlour, making sure the udder is cleaned of any excess dirt and the teats are disinfected thoroughly. Cows need to be left standing in a clean and dry environment for 30 minutes after drying off while the teat end closes,” she adds.

She advises that dry cow yards and pens need to be appropriately stocked at 1.25sq m per 1,000 litres of milk production and must be bedded at least every other day and cleaned out completely every four weeks.

“If possible, water troughs should be positioned away from the bedded area to avoid excess moisture on the beds.”

She advises dry cow paddocks should be frequently rotated to avoid bacterial build-up, adding: “Rotating your dry cows every two weeks can be very beneficial and giving paddocks a rest period of four weeks in between stocking can help reduce infection pressure.”

More information on how to control mastitis can be found in the DairyCo Mastitis Control Plan.


Focus on feed efficiency

Improving feed conversion efficiency has a key role in reducing the overall cost of pig production, says BPEX knowledge transfer manager Stephen Winfield.

“Feed storage, feeding space and feeder placement can all have an effect on feed waste and use, as do pig gut health, feed quality, diet specification and water intake, among many other factors.”

Mr Winfield says routine recording and regular team reviews can help to identify which factors are playing a part on each particular unit so effective actions can be taken.

See also for more information on growth rates and feeding

Keep good gilt records

Keeping accurate records for individual gilts and sows is critical to high performance in the breeding herd, says BPEX knowledge transfer manager Angela Cliff.

“Carrying out and recording heat detection in all gilts will make a huge difference to both first litter and lifetime performance. Producers can use the records to identify any poor performance trends to help improve the situation.

“Time invested in gilt management will pay dividends in the long-term performance of the herd,” she adds.

Beef and sheep

Join EBLEX’s Grazing Club

Grazing Club is a free EBLEX initiative for English beef and sheep producers who want to get more out of their grassland.

“Well-managed grassland provides the most economic feed for livestock, yet all too often it’s overlooked and underperforms,” says senior livestock scientist Liz Genever.

Grazing Club offers producers the tools to better manage grass and provides them with the opportunity to swap ideas with other club members.

Visit the Grazing Club website for more information or join in the conversation on Twitter using #GrazingClub.

Choose the right wormer

Internal parasites (worms and fluke) pose a significant threat to animal health and performance, so choosing the right wormer is vital, according to EBLEX.

“Getting the most from your wormer is essential for optimising livestock performance at minimum cost, as well as reducing the risk of parasites developing resistance to anthelmintics,” says EBLEX BRP project manager Katie Brian.

To help farmers make the right choice, EBLEX has updated its easy-to-read parasite control guide, which lists more than 100 cattle and 70 sheep products.

Download the BRP Cattle and Sheep Parasite Control Guide or to request a hard copy call 0870 241 8829.