Dairy cows grazing grass

Dosing Advice: Combating Lungworm In Your Herd

Author: James O’Neill 


Lungworm infections in your herd can cause a severe and often fatal disease that is commonly called hoose. A lungworm infestation is caused by exposure of grazing animals to lungworm larvae on a pasture. The lifecycle of the lungworm is about four weeks long i.e., from the ingestion of larvae to the excretion of infective larvae by the affected animal. In the worst case, within four weeks of ingesting lungworm larvae, the cow or calf can be shedding millions of fresh larvae onto the pasture via their faeces and is most commonly seen from August to October.

Lungworm: Spotting The Early Signs

Early signs to look out for include coughing, initially after exercise and then at rest, with an increased respiratory rate. Left untreated, cattle will often lose weight, with noticeable deterioration taking place in their body condition. Dairy cattle may also experience a sudden and dramatic drop in milk yield.

Rain can disperse larvae in contaminated faeces, while warm, moist conditions keep infective larvae alive and encourage fungal growth. Larvae often make use of the fungal spore, Pilobolus (found on cattle dung), to disperse themselves on a pasture. Generally, conditions that favour the growth of pasture also favour the development of the infective larval stage L3, which is why outbreaks peak in late summer and early autumn. A dry season followed by a damp one has always encouraged outbreaks as this creates a natural immunity gap.


Treat infected cattle as early as possible because there may be varying degrees of infection in any one group. Levamisole (Levafas Dimond) and white drenches (Tramazole) will take out what parasites are there on the day of treatment and have no residual effect. Macrocyclic Lactones such as Ivermectin (Acomec Pour-On, Ivomec injection and Eprizero Pour-On) will give longer protection (28-120 days is typical). The product used will have a bearing on subsequent grazing management post-treatment. Calves that were heavily infected need to be closely observed for 1-2 days post-treatment.


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Mineral supplementation

Mineral Supplementation Guide

Author: John Bass 


The time of year has come once again to start planning for the coming winter, and with that, decisions need to be made on winter diets and mineral supplementation. The best way to start is by undertaking a nutrient and mineral analysis on silage in order to make a plan on what supplementation is needed to balance the feed value and also any mineral shortfalls. Results of silage analysis so far this season have indicated that quality is mixed, with a lot of June cut silage lacking in dry matter digestibility (DMD) as well as protein and energy. This is a result of large crops of grass being cut at a later growth stage due to unfavourable weather conditions.

Mineral Supplementation 

After balancing the protein and energy requirements to meet the animal’s needs i.e., milking cows or dry stock, it is vital that we look at the mineral requirements of each animal to get the correct level of macro and micronutrients. The intensity of livestock farming has increased a lot in recent years especially in the dairy herd. This has led to a lot of silage being cut off out-farms, often too far to draw dung and slurry, meaning land is becoming depleted of key nutrients and minerals. The result is silage that is very low in minerals.


mineral supplementation


There are many ways to feed mineral supplements, however unfortunately, the most convenient methods for the farmer aren’t always the most beneficial to the animal. For example, dusting on top of the feed is simple, however lack of adequate feed space and dominance within the herd can mean that some animals will take in a lot more than others. Therefore, it is important to mix powder minerals through the feed to ensure a constant and regulated intake by each animal. This also goes for block-based molasses or salt licks as intakes will vary depending on the product and the availability to the animal, leading to an over or undersupply to certain animals, which can negatively impact on health and vigour.

The most reliable way to feed minerals is to mix through concentrated feeds. This is especially the case with macronutrients, while topping up micronutrients using boluses or doses ensures each animal is receiving the recommended supply. It is also important to feed the right levels of certain minerals at certain times especially with calving cows. E.g. Supply high magnesium (Mg) pre-calving and high calcium (Ca) post-calving to help avoid milk fever.


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winter feeding

Winter Feeding 2021

Author: Jack Scallan  


Early silage analysis results indicate that silage is not of the usual high quality this year. This is not surprising as grass growth and quality were poor during the spring and summer periods. Poor growth rates, low protein levels and variable energy levels in grass lead to very low milk urea levels throughout the summer. The low protein in the grass caused many cows to fall short of their peak milk production. The growth rates, protein, and energy levels in grass recovered in the autumn but grass dry matter (DM) dropped which created issues with intakes and clean out of paddocks.

Silage Analysis Results 

The preliminary silage results are showing that the dry matter is high (25 to 30%), while protein and energy are low. The digestibility (DMD) is ranging from about 65 to 70%. As a result of the low nutrient value in combination with the high DM, some animals may not get their full nutrient requirement from silage alone. Therefore, it will be necessary to give these animals some supplementation over the winter period.

Concentrate Feeding 

The level of supplementation or meal feeding will initially depend on the silage analysis but also on the stock type, body condition score (BCS), target weights, and in the case of beef stock, daily live-weight gain (DLWG) and finishing weight.

Youngstock and weanlings should receive between 1 and 2 kg of a 16% concentrate, either nuts or coarse ration that has a UFL of at least 0.95 and contain good quality ingredients, such as barley, soya bean meal, beet pulp or maize meal. Particular attention should be given to replacement heifers this year as they need to achieve a target weight of 340 to 360kg at first service, while first-time calvers should be at 540 to 560kg at calving. Bodyweight at first calving depends on breed, age, etc., and should be approximately 90% of the cow’s mature weight.

Cows usually wouldn’t need any supplementation in the dry period where silage quality is average to good. This year, meal feeding may be required. This will be dependent on silage analysis and BCS. BCS should be 3.0 at drying off and 3.25 at calving. So far this year, cows have held their condition well and it should be maintained through the dry period. If supplementation is required, then up to 2.5kg/head/day should be adequate. Ideal supplementation options are a good pre-calver concentrate or a combination of straights such as barley, oats, maize meal or soya bean meal.


Cows eating silage


Particular attention should be given to first lactation cows as they can lose condition rapidly and find it difficult to build it back up. Housing them separately from the main herd is desirable, as they can be fed extra concentrate without excessive bullying from older cows.

Forward store cattle and finishing cattle will need a very high-energy diet to reach their target weights. A concentrate with 0.98 UFL or 0.97 UFV and a crude protein of 13 to 15%, should be adequate to achieve these targets with this year’s silage.

In all cases, a good source of fresh clean water must be available to counteract the high DM in the silage. If you have any queries regarding silage and its quality or if you wish to get your silage analysed, please contact your Cooney Furlong Representative or your local branch. 


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Achieving Effective Grass Weed Control

Author: Jimmy Staples 


Harvest 2021 will be remembered for several reasons; good weather, excellent yields and high prices. With sowing of autumn crops almost wrapped up, farmers would be forgiven for forgetting about the difficulties that they faced in the spring of this year.

Weed control was particularly challenging last season as a poor back end and a cold, wet spring left very few opportunities to spray when conditions were right. Indeed, I don’t think I spoke with a farmer this year who didn’t have at least one field where herbicide efficacy was either severely reduced or there was no control achieved.

If last spring thought us anything it is that relying solely on a spring herbicide application to control weeds is a gamble. This is further compounded by the increasing number of reports of herbicide resistance in both broad-leaved and grass weeds across the country. Worryingly, most of these weeds are being reported as having some or full resistance to the ALS family of herbicides. Examples of these are Pacifica Plus, Broadway Star, Ally, Cameo and Harmony type products which are widely used here in spring.

Autumn germinating grass weeds like blackgrass, sterile brome and Italian ryegrass can produce anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 seeds per plant. The poor control achieved in many crops last season resulted in an increased level of seed return compared to previous years and could well make weed control for the coming year challenging.


Integrated Pest Management:

Every farm should have an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy developed for their farm. This will be different for every farm as each one has its own unique circumstances and challenges. However, the fundamentals don’t change; in order to develop an IPM strategy you need to know what weeds are present on the farm and you also need to understand their biology. For instance, when do they germinate, flower and set seed?

An IPM strategy should be based around the use of cultural control options with a targeted herbicide strategy employed to achieve the highest levels of control possible. Depending on the target weed, there are a range of cultural control options available. Below are examples of these options available for autumn germinating grass weeds:

  • Rotational ploughing
  • Stale seedbeds
  • Delayed sowing
  • Spring cropping
  • Use of break crops
  • Increasing seeding rates
  • Use of competitive cultivars
  • Preventing seed return
    • Rogueing
    • Whole cropping
    • Crop destruction
  • Machine hygiene

The trick is to use as many of these options as is practically possible to both reduce the number of viable seeds in the seedbank, and more importantly, to prevent seed return. The likes of blackgrass and sterile brome seeds are short-lived in the soil and a seed decline of 70-80% per year is normal. This is especially important where resistant populations are present. Unfortunately, these challenges will not be overcome in one or even two seasons. In order to prevent populations of these grass weeds from increasing, a minimum of 95% control is needed year in year out.


Herbicide Strategy:

When considering what herbicides to use as part of your IPM strategy, there is only one place to start and that is with a pre-emergence herbicide. Pre-emergence herbicides tick many boxes.

  • They have improved efficacy as you are controlling weeds when they are very small.
  • Weather conditions around sowing time are generally quite favourable for spraying. You have longer days and soils are more trafficable compared to late October and into November.
  • Pre-emergence herbicides are an important part of your resistant management strategy as you are varying the chemistry and controlling weeds when they are at their most vulnerable.

Weed screen trials conducted last year by Teagasc in Oak Park found that the best weed control was achieved where pre-emergence herbicides were used in the program. Where autumn germinating grass weeds are a concern, using flufenacet based products (Firebird, Firebird Met, Naceto, Reliance etc.) will give you the best control. As with all plant protection products, ensure you are using the right rate for the target weed.

The use of a pre-emergence herbicide is particularly important in winter barley situations as you have no spring herbicide options available for controlling these weeds. Where you have winter wheat, using a pre-emergence product will take the pressure off the spring herbicide. Weeds that emerge after the use of a pre-emergence herbicide tend to be smaller coming into the spring and should be easier to control.


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Sowing winter crops

Winter Crop Update

Author: George Blackburn 


As October draws to a close, we find ourselves in a far better position from twelve months ago. This time last year the weather was a battle to say the least and the autumn drilling season proved very difficult. We also must take stock on the year that was and 2021 will be remembered as possibly one of the best harvests in living memory. From a rocky start last autumn, crops performed exceptionally well across the board with tillage farmers full of optimism once more. The holy trinity of yield, price and weather all came together to give us all a timely boost. It has reinvigorated the sector and reminded us all why it is we do what we do for a living. Farming is a risky business and feeding the world is becoming a trickier proposition for all sorts of reasons. 2021 has restored a lot of faith and it is nice to be rewarded for our efforts over the past 12 months. Next year may however prove challenging once again especially with fertiliser prices set to increase but farmers are resilient by definition and will put every effort into growing the best quality crops they can for 2022.


Winter Oilseed Rape:

The number of winter rape plantings have increased dramatically this year. Factors such as grass weed issues in cereals, record high prices for rape and a very favourable planting window have all contributed to this. Crops were sown in a timely fashion towards the end of August and early September and have established exceptionally well. Most have already been treated with a pre-emergence herbicide for weeds and a graminicide. The use of hybrid varieties has worked well in the later planting slots. The main concern for many crops at the moment is growth regulation especially in the ranker thicker crops. Aim to apply some metconazole to these crops in the next week to ten days. Pre-emergence herbicide has worked well also, with good chemical uptake in the target weeds. Crops will need to be treated with a fungicide for light leaf spot and some foliar boron when at the 4-8 true leaf stage; probably around mid-November. Crops that weren’t treated with a pre-emergence herbicide or that have grass weed issues will need to be sprayed with kerb or astrokerb when temperatures drop below 12 degrees Celsius. The use of propyzamide and aminopyralid is especially important where fields have been planted to rape to help overcome resistant grass weeds such as wild oats or sterile brome. These fields must receive kerb when temperatures and ground conditions are suitable enough. At current prices, rape looks to be the break crop of choice.


Winter Wheat:

Plantings of winter wheat have increased again on last year with a mixture of early and later sown crops. The excellent returns from wheat in 2021 and the kinder autumn have contributed to this. Again, growers have opted with the tried and tested varieties of Graham and Costello. Both have performed exceptionally well this year with some growers recording record yields. More than one field managed to break the 6-tonne barrier this year showing us that it can be done. Many growers especially on more difficult soils took advantage of favourable conditions in late September. These crops have established excellently with almost 100% germination. Crops sown in late September will be at risk of BYDV and will need an aphicide when at the 3-leaf stage and possibly a follow up treatment approximately a month later. Aphid counts are variable and we are still slightly in the dark as to the relative proportion of resistant aphids in the local population. This year has been milder than last year so far, therefore well timed aphicide applications are a must. We have transform back on the market this autumn with an autumn use label so that should be a big help with no known resistance to this product in the field as yet. The advice must be to err on the side of caution and avoid spraying with a pyrethroid insecticide until at least 3 true leaves are on crops to minimise damage to beneficial insects that feed on aphids in the target population. Later sown crops in marginal conditions will be more at risk of slug damage so growers will need to keep an eye on the emergence of these crops. It is still time enough to sow wheat if conditions allow but be mindful to increase seeding rates as the season moves on.


Winter Barley: 

Winter Barley

Winter Barley plantings are also up as a whole, and many crops have been sown into good quality seedbeds. There is a vast choice of winter barley varieties on the market this year with LG Casting and Valerie two-rows proving popular primarily for their grain quality, with the hybrid six-row Belfry and six-row conventional Kosmos popular in more difficult fields. Joyau a six-row conventional variety with BYDV tolerance was available in limited supply last season and the few crops that were sown performed very well. As a result, there has been an increase in plantings especially in very early slots. It definitely will have a place going forward in rotations. Plant breeding rather than chemistry may be our best weapon against plant pathogens in the future so varieties with more robust genetics for disease and pest resistance will come more to the fore. As with wheat, similar advice applies for aphicide applications. Most crops were treated pre-emergence with a combination of flufenacet and DFF, and this was very important for grass weed control. Any crops not treated will need to get a post emergence treatment of tower and DFF before annual meadow grass tillers. It is essential to treat winter barley for grass as soon as possible in autumn as there is no spring treatment available anymore.


Winter Oats:

winter oats

Winter oat plantings are holding steady with the two main varieties of Isabel and Husky being sown. Oats are generally not sown until after October 10th so there is still plenty of time to plant oats if conditions allow. The above mentioned are both spring varieties planted in the winter so earlier sowing will present more problems than solutions with disease and growth regulation. Aim to plant oats at 12 stone per acre or 200 kg per hectare at this stage of the season to insure a strong plant stand. Isabel is more suited to coastal areas as it has a very good rust resistance profile. Husky is a hardier variety so will prove more suitable to inland areas where winter frost is a higher risk. Winter oats generally do not require an autumn herbicide but crops that may be in fields with annual meadow grass issues can be sprayed pre-emergence with DFF. This is more advisable with Husky than with Isabel.


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Terra Range

Introducing The Terra Range from Target Fertilisers

Author: Philip Kennedy 


Target Fertilisers have introduced their new range of sustainable fertiliser solutions. The three new products are namely TerraCAN + S (22N + 3S), TerraGRAZE + S (22N-5K + 3.5S) and TerraCUT + S (20N -2P-12K +2S). These products have been introduced to the market to provide customers with a solution to decrease their total nitrogen (N) use, while maintaining high crop outputs. Typically, these products will allow for up to 25% reduction in N use to provide the same yield due to increased N uptake and efficiency. It is also a great advantage that there are products in the range containing P and K. The trial results included below speak for themselves and locally we have received excellent feedback from customers commenting on good growth and dry matter levels.


How It Works:

The bio-stimulant PSI 362 enhances the biological processes within the plant. These bio-stimulants stimulate the nitrate transponders in the plant to take up more of the available nitrogen in the soil than they would normally do. The extra nitrates taken up are converted into amino acids which produce more chlorophyll and therefore more photosynthesis takes place. This means we get similar biomass levels produced even with 20% less N as well as seeing higher dry matter levels in the crop afterwards.


Irish Agriculture Challenges:

  • The current E.U. Farm to Fork Strategy is targeting a 20% reduction in fertiliser use by 2030.
  • They have a goal for all water to be classified as good or excellent by 2027; this is currently only around 50%, with highly stocked intensive areas noticeably poorer than others.
  • Dairy cows’ organic nitrogen allocation has already increased (85kg to 89kg) with proposals to increase higher-yielding cows even further which in turn will reduce permissible total chemical N applications.
  • Nitrogen use efficiency is likely to be part of a derogation review. (Teagasc 2019 figures reported 24.4% utilisation out of total N applied).
  • Greenhouse gas emissions require lower methane and nitrate oxide levels and Ireland has ammonia fines pending for 17/18/19 thus far.


Sustainable Fertiliser Solutions:

Target Fertilisers have now introduced the new Terra Range. Brandon Biosciences identified a specific molecule derived from marine bio-actives, the most abundant renewable resource available, called PSI 362 based on 22 years research.

PSI 362 is applied to granular N as a coating working at multiple levels on N absorption, transportation and utilisation. Multiple trials have been conducted over 8 different soil types. This product allows an 80% rate (20% less N applied) to provide the same growth response compared to Super CAN applied at a 100% rate and lower N required due to increased uptake. Dry matter in tested grass crops was also improved as well as silage quality improving by over 5% DMD.

The chart below is a mix of 1st, 2nd and 3rd cut for both years on TerraCAN vs SuperCAN CCF:

The chart below is a trial of grass on TerraCAN vs SuperCAN CCF:

As you can see in the table below there were additional benefits to herbage quality when TerraCAN + S was used.


Herbage quality with Terra Range


Leaf analysis where TerraCAN was applied contained higher rates of nitrate in the crop which allows for less ‘free’ N to cause any environmental impacts. PSI 362 puts more nitrogen in the plant from every kg applied so it can grow to become a high-quality crop.

This is a natural product with no harmful residues which increases crop yields and quality. The PSI technology platform has delivered consistent results over the past 5 years in trials. The increase in nutrient uptake efficiency is part of the solution to lower ammonia and greenhouse gases. The Terra range can bridge the gap between required crop yields and lower N allowances.

This product allows an 80% rate (20% less N applied) to provide the same growth response compared to Super CAN applied at a 100% rate. Lower N is required due to increased uptake. Dry matter in tested grass crops also improved as well as silage quality, which improved by over 5% DMD.

Leaf analysis contained higher rates of nitrate in the crop which allows for less ‘Free’ N to cause any environmental impacts. PSI362 puts more nitrogen in the plant from every kg applied so it can grow to become a high-quality crop. This is a natural product with no harmful residues which increases crop yields and quality.


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