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News > Beef and Sheep Management Notes – October


Beef and Sheep Management Notes – October

October 1, 2020


Housing cattle

Housing cattle has started earlier this year on some farms due to difficult weather and ground conditions. For most other farms the housing period will begin within the next few weeks. Consider the risks associated with housing cattle. Increased stress, coupled with the housed environment, allows pathogens to live and multiply more easily. The main example of this is the prevalence of pneumonia particularly at this time of year after cattle are housed. Good ventilation in housing is the key to minimising pneumonia as it allows the replacement of stale, warm air containing pathogens, with fresh cooler air. As a rule of thumb, calves and adult cattle require 0.04 square metresand 0.1 square metres per head of outlet respectively and at least double this area as inlet. Moisture and draughts need to be kept to a minimum. Use a smoke pellet to determine if a shed has sufficient ventilation. This needs to be used while the cattle are in the shed, as it is the cattle that create the ‘stack effect’. Smoke pellets can be bought from most hardware and plumbing stores. Complete pneumonia vaccination before the risk period. Increased incidences of pneumonia can occur where weaning calves coincides with housing. Ideally, wean calves outside or allow at least two weeks to allow them to adjust to housing and the silage diet before being weaned. Concentrate feeding will also reduce weaning related stress.

Parasite control in cattle

Adult cattle greater than two years of age usually have immunity to worms, whereas there is no natural immunity to liver fluke. All ages of stock therefore need to be assessed for treatment where there is a history or risk of infection. Faecal sampling and fluke reports provided by factories at slaughter can be used to determine whether or not liver fluke is an issue. Discuss this with your vet. The appropriate time to wait to treat post-housing is determined by the active ingredient/product used. While some products can be used from two weeks post-housing, others which target mature fluke will not kill immature fluke. Control of Worms Sustainably (COWS), an industry led stakeholder group, aims to promote best practice in the control of cattle parasites. It urges you to stick to the five Rs; use the right product on the right animal at the right time at the right dose rate and administer in the right way. For more information on COWS visit


Sheep breeding season

Tupping season will start in most flocks this month. Using a raddle on rams helps to monitor mating and identify repeats, which are approximately 17 days after first service. An alternative to the conventional raddle is a harness and crayon. This eliminates the need to disturb rams to top up raddle and will give a consistent colour over time. A harness generally costs £15-£20 and the crayon £3-£4. Whichever method is used, changing colours during the season will allow identification of repeats. Start with lighter colours first.


Closed spreading period

The closed period, prohibiting the spreading of chemical nitrogen and phosphate fertiliser on grassland started on the 15th September and ends on the 31st January inclusive. Organic manures, including slurry and poultry litter cannot be spread from midnight 15th October until midnight 31st January. Farmyard manure can be spread until midnight 31st October. Keep a record of exports of organic manures as thesemust be submitted annually to NIEA before 31st January for the previous calendar year. Records of slurry imports must be kept, however it is the responsibility of the person exporting the slurry to submit details to NIEA. 

For information and guidance during the Convid-19 pandemic please refer to: