30ac contract rearing unit established at Ballyhaise

Researchers at Teagasc’s Ballyhaise College, Co. Cavan, have developed a contract rearing unit to demonstrate best practice for both dairy farmers and contract rearers alike.

Sitting along side the college’s dairy, beef and sheep enterprises, 30ac has been set aside for the creation of a ‘stand alone’ contract rearing unit.

30 calves and 30 bulling heifers are currently found on the farm – the equivalent of 2.5 heifer units per hectare and, through pasture rejuvenation, it’s hoped to increase this to 3.0-3.5 in the coming years.

Teagasc staff plan to reseed and paddock the 30ac parcel to see what level of production can be obtained through the maximum use of grass, while also keeping variable costs to a minimum.

As it stands, it costs the college approximately €1,600 to bring a heifer calf through to the milking herd; feed and fertiliser costs make up around €720/heifer of this cost.

By focusing on gaining maximum production from grass, Teagasc staff hope to develop a model for both dairy farmers and contract rearers to demonstrate the levels of performance and the profits that can be obtained from such an enterprise.

The establishment of such a unit is timely. More and more dairy farmers are now looking at contract rearing as a method of maximising production from their farms and having another farmer rear heifers is seen as a way of doing so.