‘Making suckling work for you’

IGA Summer Beef Tour Launch Portlaw June 2014
IGA Summer Beef Tour Launch Portlaw June 2014

The Irish Grassland Association Beef Summer Tour 2014 is titled ‘Making Suckling Work for You – The right cow on the right grass’ and will take place on Tuesday, July 29.

The event is sponsored by IFAC and Herdplus and will visit two profitable beef farms, Tom and Bridget Murphy, Ballycahane, Portlaw, Co. Waterford and James and Mary Grace, Ballincur Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny. Both farms from strong hurling counties and both farms delivering a healthy profit from suckling. The tour will provide a great opportunity to discover the factors underpinning their profitability.

Tom and Bridget farm 92ha in three blocks. The tour will visit the block in Mountbolton. They run a 150-cow suckler herd with all offspring finished to beef. The herd is 50% autumn and 50% spring calving. The heifers are finished at 18-20 months (380kg) and the bulls are finished at 16-18 months (420kg).

Tom is a member of the Drumlohan Grass Group. This has brought a wealth of experience to Tom’s farming system, he says. His experience is that grassland management on the cattle side is more challenging as more grazing groups means that grass surpluses can be more difficult to spot. He walks his farm weekly to ensure that surpluses are taken out as bales. Tom is always tweaking his grassland management and has recently improved flexibility of his grazing management by fitting extra water troughs in his paddocks. He also plans to put in additional permanent fencing.

IGA Summer Beef Tour Launch Portlaw June 2014 30 (3)

Looking for ways to improve profitability, he completed the profit monitor for a number of years and picked up from it the need to improve the quality and liveweight gain of his stock. He has improved the quality of his stock bulls to do this. However, he would like to improve the milk yield of his cows. To do this, he has purchased Limousin first cross cows from the dairy herd. Is this the best method to target milk improvement tin cows? Experts from ICBF will be on hand on the day to go through different replacement heifer strategies and how the new Replacement Index can be used to produce replacements.

James and Mary farm a short distance away in Mooncoin. They run a 55-cow, autumn-calving herd. The herd consists of first cross Limousin from Fr. Cows. Limousin and Parthenaise bulls run with the herd. Some heifers are brought through to finish. James also purchases 30 dairy calves which are brought through to beef.

Currently the total grazing area runs to 53.2ha split into four blocks. The objective of this farm is to maximise profit through milk and grass. This is achieved through measuring grass by using Pasture Base and breeding using ICBF. Herdplus provides valuable farm management data on cow performance.

James has also worked hard to maximise grass growth on his farm by taking soil samples and making an easy to follow fertiliser plan to provide the soil with the nutrients it requires to grow grass. This farm visit provides great opportunity to view and discuss a farm maximising performance from grass.

There will be experts on hand on the day from Teagasc and ICBF to discuss breeding and profit on suckling farms so that you can identify key areas in your farming system that can be improved.

 

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