Management notes for June 2020

Date published: 05 June 2020

Management Notes are prepared by staff from the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE). CAFRE is a College within the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Water troughs should be large enough so that 10% of the herd can drink at any one time.


Prepared by: Christopher Breen

Slurry and fertiliser for second cut silage

The online CAFRE Crop Nutrient Calculator found is useful for working out slurry and fertiliser requirements for second cut silage. At soil index 2 for phosphate and index 1 for potassium (potash), typical indices of fields with a history of being cut for silage, slurry has the potential to provide some of the nitrogen and potash (K) and all of the phosphate.

An application of 22 cubic metres of dairy cow slurry per hectare (2,000 gallons per acre) and 375 kg (three bags per acre) of a 22:0:10 type fertiliser can meet second cut requirements at these indexes. To ensure better silage fermentation and to minimise sward damage spread slurry evenly, preferably using a low emission spreading technique.

Growing a low potash silage for dry cows

There are health advantages to producing a silage specifically for dry cows. Aim for a low K grass at cutting as high K silages are associated with metabolic disorders and subsequent poor milk yields in early lactation cows. If you didn’t set aside an area for this in first cut, prepare an area of second cut for dry cow silage

Fields previously cut for silage should not receive slurry again. An application of 315 kg per hectare (2.5 bags per acre) of CAN fertiliser (27:0:0) is enough to grow a low K silage for dry cows

Bale silage is also suitable for feeding to dry cows. Leave cutting until early August as stem development coincides with a fall in grass K levels. To avoid mould growth or mycotoxins the harvested grass dry matter should not rise above 35% before baling. It takes seven hectares to produce enough bales to feed 100 cows in the last four weeks of the dry period. Store the bales separately and use only for dry cow feeding.

Water for cows at grass

Water for cows at grass is extremely important with 100 cows drinking 6,500 litres daily. On days where temperatures are above 20oC this figure can double. Troughs should be large enough so that 10% of the herd can drink at any one time, with 30-50% water intake occurring within one hour of milking. Troughs in the centre of paddocks with fast flow valves and large bore pipes ensure cows have easy access to water. Clean troughs regularly as cows are very sensitive to smell and will not drink dirty water.

Condition scoring late lactation cows

Cows calved last autumn are over 200 days in milk and should be condition scored any time now. Aim to have them at condition score 2.75 at calving. They should be about condition score 2.5 at the moment. Assess fat cover over the loin, pelvis and tail area:

  • Loin - there should be a slight depression along the cow’s top line and loin. The shelf at the end of her transverse processes and flank should be filling.
  • Pelvis - there should be a good cover of tissue developing on the plates.
  • Tail area - there should be a good cover of tissue over the pin bones and the cavity at the tail head should be filling.

If you have cows that have not yet reached this stage, are under conditioned and well past 200 days in milk, increase their dry matter intake. Feed 1.0-3.0 kg per day of a low protein supplement, for example rolled barley.

June jobs checklist

  • To maintain sward quality, graze swards down and top swards containing dead grass or seed heads.
  • Think about dry cow winter diets now so that low potash silage can be made.
  • If operating under a nitrates derogation ensure any slurry spread after 15th June is applied using a low emission technique such as a trailing shoe or dribble bar.
  • Calibrate parlour and out of parlour feeders to ensure accurate feeding.
  • Carry out spraying if conditions are suitable and docks/weeds are at the correct stage for control. Your local Basis trained agronomist can advise on the best product and timing to achieve good control. Always read the product label and comply with the grazing and harvest intervals. These are minimum intervals and longer intervals of up to 21 days, if possible, between spraying and cutting or grazing will improve weed control.

Download more information and guidance during the Convid-19 pandemic.


Prepared by: Nigel Gould

Draft lambs for slaughter

Draft lambs for slaughter as they become fit. Pay attention to the specific carcase weight limits set by individual factories and aim to minimise the number of lambs exceeding this limit. This is particularly important at this time of year when carcase weight limits are usually lower than later in the year. Timely marketing of lambs will maximise the number sold at a higher price before the traditional price drop which usually occurs in June. Kill-out percentages of lambs vary widely, from as high as 50% in young, well conformed, creep fed lambs drafted straight off the ewe to as low as 42-44% later in the season for weaned lambs fed a grass only diet. Lambs should not be drafted on weight alone. Adequate fat cover is equally important. Pay attention to withdrawal dates of anthelmintics, preventative treatments for blowfly control and any other animal medicines used as some of these products have long withdrawal periods.

Weaning lambs

Aim to wean lambs at between 12 and 14 weeks of age. The best quality grass can then be targeted towards lambs. Dry ewes in good condition can be used as followers to graze out swards. Consider early weaning at approximately ten weeks for hogget ewes, ewes rearing triplets and other ewes in poor condition. After eight to ten weeks the proportion of milk in the overall diet is minimal, particularly for these lambs. Having ewes in good body condition for the next breeding season starts at weaning. It can take ten weeks for a ewe to gain one body condition score.

Blowfly control

Decide on an appropriate preventative treatment for blowfly control and maggot strike, if not already carried out. Some treatments provide cover for longer periods of time however, consideration needs to be given to withdrawal dates. Lambs nearer to slaughter can be given a different treatment with a shorter withdrawal period if required. Traditional dipping, pour-ons and showering are the most common blowfly control options. Before treatment, close monitoring of the flock for evidence of maggot strike is critical. Warm, damp conditions provide an ideal environment for blowfly activity. Darkening of the wool in affected areas is the primary indicator, with wool loss evident in the later stage.

Monitor worm burdens

Monitor worm burdens in both cattle and sheep, ideally using faecal sampling to guide anthelmintic use. Burdens increase as lambs and calves become more reliant on grazed grass. Lungworm or hoose as it is often referred to starts to become an issue in calves around this time of year. Act early to avoid the associated problems of pneumonia and permanent lung damage. Dairy bred calves are particularly susceptible due to their higher reliance on grazed grass from an earlier age. Mixed grazing of cattle and sheep will reduce burdens as each are affected by different types of worms. A leader-follower system, where calves or young stock graze ahead of older cattle, also reduces the impact of worms on calves.

Grazing management

Grass quality can become an issue in June when grass growth has been good. Opening covers are sometimes too high and grazing down tight becomes more difficult. This results in a higher proportion of stem in the sward with a buildup of dead material at the base. This will continue to have a negative effect on sward quality as the season progresses. Ideally, target opening covers of 3,000 kg per hectare for cattle, 2,200 kg per hectare for sheep and aim to graze down to 1,600 kg per hectare. If quality has already deteriorated and the sward can’t be grazed down tight, topping may be necessary. To maximise the positive effect on the sward cut down to between 4 and 5 cm. In set stocking systems, 25% of the area can be topped at a time to improve grass quality without diminishing supply. 

Download information and guidance during the Convid-19 pandemic


Prepared by: Pamela Gardiner

CAFRE Advisers offering continued support to farmers

CAFRE Advisers are continuing to deliver knowledge transfer and advice to farmers during this difficult time. With face to face meetings unable to take place currently, the advisory service is delivering knowledge to farmers in many other ways, making use of a wide range of different technologies.

  • Advisers have been producing technical articles that are available on the CAFRE website. Articles include topics such as producing quality silage, grassland weed control on dairy farms, spreading lime and soil analysis for poultry producers.
  • CAFRE Advisers have also produced videos that are available on our YouTube channel, CAFREtv. The videos include topics such as control of worm burden in lambs, preparing for silage and dairy margin over concentrate. Videos featuring farmers that are involved in the BETTER Beef Programme, DairyLink Programme and the Northern Ireland Sheep Programme are also available.
  • Members of Business Development Groups (BDGs) are receiving a fortnightly newsletter by text, called BDG Chat.
  • Many BDG members have been added to group chat on various messaging services. These groups are ideal for farmers to share information across their group, ask questions and seek advice from their Adviser and other farmers.
  • Advisers have held online meetings with BDG members. This is a new tool for CAFRE to use and allows for continued knowledge transfer within BDGs.
  • A dedicated Covid-19 industry support page has been created on the CAFRE website. You can contact Advisers using the email address or telephone the helpline number that relates to your query. Staff are available Monday to Friday 9am-5pm to deal with any queries, with a voicemail facility available outside these hours.
    • Farming        0300 200 7843
    • Food             0300 200 7846
    • Environment 0300 200 7842

APHIS Online training videos

Cattle farmers are aware that they must record the identity and movement of all their animals to comply with DAERA’s Identification, Registration and Movement legislation. Almost 370,000 (more than 70%) calves are registered using APHIS Online every year. Online herd keepers are benefiting from using the 24/7 service which helps them check for errors and provides feedback to confirm when birth registrations have been successfully completed, all without the need to complete any paperwork.

You can access a wide range of short APHIS Online training videos via the support page on the DAERA website. The topics include:

  • Bovine birth notification
  • Bovine death notification
  • Notify an intention to move out of your herd to an abattoir/market
  • Update an intention to move document
  • Buyer confirmation
  • Request and view your Point in Time Herd List
  • View post and ante mortem information
  • View the Nitrates Stock Count report
  • View the Animal Movement report  


Business in the Community, in partnership with Go ON NI and NI Direct, are offering free digital help for anyone who needs it. If you have a tablet, laptop or phone and need help with a problem, digital volunteers will help you. 

The service is set up through the Northern Ireland Civil Service NIDirect SMS portal. Text the word DIGITALHELP (one word) to 67300 with a short description of what you need help with. A volunteer will then phone you within 48 hours with free advice on topics such as:

  • email
  • attachments
  • staying safe online
  • online payments
  • shopping online
  • saving and sharing photos
  • computer settings
  • Skype/Facetime/Facebook

All text messages are charged at your network operator’s standard rate. Information is held securely and is non-identifiable and not shared with a third party. Information will be used by digital partners for this service only. There is no charge for receiving texts from this service while in the UK.

Download more information

Download information and guidance during the Convid-19 pandemic


Prepared by: Kieran Lavelle

Control woolly apple aphid in orchards now

Woolly apple aphid (Eriosoma lanigerum) is on the increase in orchards and is becoming a serious pest, particularly in young orchards. Where populations are high, infestations can cause the formation of galls on branches. These reduce tree vigour, especially in young orchards and are also a nuisance to pickers at harvest due to the contamination of fruits and foliage with honey dew and wax. Woolly aphid is easily recognisable as the aphid itself is brown to greyish purple in colour and produces conspicuous secretions of white woolly wax.                                

Earwigs, ladybirds and the parasitic wasp, Aphelinus mali are important natural enemies and usually regulate populations to below damaging levels. Where woolly aphid is a problem artificial housing, for example pastic bottles with the bottom removed and packed with cardboard should be provided for earwigs in orchards. Avoid the use of pesticides harmful to earwigs and other natural enemies.

Inspect orchards for the pest, checking for colonies producing conspicuous masses of white woolly wax in early June and again in mid-summer. Inspect at least 25 trees per orchard. If one or more trees in the sample has woolly aphid on the extension growth the econmoic threshold for spraying has been reached and treatment with an insecticide is justified. Apply a high volume spray in early June which coincides with the period of migration of woolly aphid from old wood to new shoots. Top fruit growers are advised to walk orchards where woolly aphid is present to determine when the woolly aphid is migrating to the new shoots. This is the critical time for control using Spirotetramat, ‘Batavia’ which is a unique insecticide used for sucking pests giving excellent control of woolly aphid.

If you would like further information on woolly aphid please contact Kieran Lavelle, Senior Adviser (Horticulture) by Email: or telephone 07990 575 893.

Is your dosing pump feeding your plants correctly?

Fertigation supplies soluble essential nutrients through the irrigation system to produce a healthy crop. The concentration of nutrients in the irrigation water is controlled by a dosing pump or dilutor. To ensure the dosing pump or dilutor is working correctly test or calibrate the dilutor at least once a year. To do this make up a diluted sample from the stock solution at the same dilution set on the dilutor. For example if the dilutor is set at 1:100, take 100 ml of stock and add this to 9.9 litres of water. Run 10 litres of water from the dilutor (minimises any electrical conductivity (EC) ‘spikes’ in the sample) and compare the two readings. If the EC from the dilutor is lower than the EC from the prepared sample, decrease the ratio on the dilutor, that is alter the ratio from 1:100 to 1:80 and vice-versa. You can also create calibration curves for every fertiliser you use on site which will remove the need to make up a diluted sample every time a check is carried out. AHDB has produced a factsheet on how to do this ‘Calibrating a water-powered proportional dilutor’.

If you would like further information on fertigation calculations, please contact Mark Huey, Adviser (Horticulture) by Email: or telephone 07785 344 244.


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