Rush control

Under cross-compliance, as part of the Basic Payment Scheme, farmers have to demonstrate that their land is in grazeable condition. This will mean controlling rushes in heavily infested areas of grassland. Rushes have become more prevalent in some areas, following on from difficult grazing conditions in autumn 2023 and a tough, wet spring over the last few months. Applying herbicide to fresh, green re-growth will achieve a better rush kill. Rushes can be topped or mulched and wait then to spray the regrowth. MCPA is an effective treatment for rushes. Take care to use the recommended rates and that no heavy rain is forecast after spraying. You must keep out 5m from any watercourses or drains when applying product. Glyphosate can be used when applied via a weed licker, but care is needed as it could potentially kill some grass if applied incorrectly. This method requires a lot less spray product and there is a lower risk of watercourse contamination. Rushes should be left for about four weeks after spraying/licking before being topped. Rushes will occur in areas which have poor drainage and low soil fertility. A soil test will provide a better assessment of what fertiliser and lime is required. Planned drainage works will also help aid long-term control.


This time of year always brings cases of redwater, especially where we get a sudden change in weather conditions. Speaking to some vets this week, more redwater cases are cropping up as a result of areas of farms not being topped due to environmental schemes and also the move in some parts of the country into organic drystock production. The risk period is highest during the summer months when ticks are most active, but it can occur any time, so it’s important to be vigilant for signs of this disease. Wet weather conditions mean animals look for shelter in rougher areas of a farm and pick up ticks easily. Bought-in cattle are more prone to redwater because these cattle may not have built up immunity as younger cattle on the farm they have come from. Ticks are more likely to be present in land with scrub, rushes and gorse, as these are ideal habitats. Use homebred stock to graze these areas if you can. Herd stock regularly, at least once a day, and look out for symptoms like red urine, dullness or no appetite, high temperatures, weakness, anaemia and animals standing away from the herd. Veterinary advice should be sought in suspected cases. Animals can be treated to prevent redwater. Animals grazing rough areas of the farm should also be treated with an avermectin-based pour-on to help control ticks.

Stock bulls

Keep a close eye on stock bulls and record as many heats and serves as you can to avoid any surprises at scanning time. Newly purchased young bulls shouldn’t be going out with more than 15-20 cows in the first season. Make sure the bull has received the same vaccinations as cows. Most scanners can pick up pregnancies from 30-35 days, so if in doubt, book a scan to make sure everything is going to plan.