All of the 2021-born livestock have now been sent for processing on the ABP Demo Farm and things have started to wind down ahead of the busy calf-rearing season in spring 2023.
While the overall figures have yet to be analysed and made available, early indications suggest slaughter weights of the 2021-born cattle will be a few kg lighter than the previous years, but a reduction in slaughter age was achieved.
The 2022-born cattle had an average housing date of November 9. The first of this group were housed on the November 1, and the last of these were housed on November 29.
Commenting on the performance of the 2022-born group, ABP’s dairy beef researcher and farm liaison officer, Sean Maher, said: “Housing weights for this year were back slightly on last year.”
Maher explained the drought over the summer as well as the difficult grazing conditions in the back end of the year attributed to the lower housing weight.
Last year’s group of dairy-beef weanlings had an average liveweight of 221kg at the start of October. The 2022-born group had an average weight of 211kg at the start of October this year.
While this year’s group were lighter at housing, Maher said that they have performed “exceedingly well” in the first month of housing.
On November 29, the calves weighed 261kg, which marks an average daily gain of 1.12kg/day. This figure is 2kg heavier than that of their counterparts in the previous year.
Maher outlined that the value of good silage quality “cannot be underestimated in dairy calf-to-beef systems” and said “this is often an area where we fall down nationally”.
On the ABP Demo Farm, silage analysis results indicate a Dry Matter Digestability (DMD) of 75% on average.
The average crude protein value of the silage on the farm is 12.5%.
Red clover silage
With the addition of red clover silage to the cattle’s diet, Maher outlined that the protein requirements from concentrates on the farm will drop from 19% to 16% which he said will offer “a significant cost saving”.
Maher explained: “Protein is often undervalued in calf-to-beef systems. Farmers should aim for more skeletal growth in young stock and in particular, with the more traditional breeds.”
Dung sampling and dosing
After noticing a small bit of coughing in some of the cattle, dung samples were taken.
These samples returned a result showing evidence of lungworm and action was taken. Maher said “this should come as no surprise due to the mild, wet conditions which we saw over a number of weeks this year”.
Dung sampling is a quick, cheap and effective way of monitoring animal health. This group will be dung sampled again in a few weeks to make sure the treatment has been successful.
The lambs have been performing well on the ABP Demo Farm. They were weighed on November 26, and had an average weight of 38.9kg.
Lambs were dung sampled ahead of weighing and the results indicated a dose was necessary.
Over the next few days, the lambs will begin their finishing period. This will involve the store lambs grazing a cover crop of Tyfon.
The protocol for finishing lambs on the farm is to draft lambs for slaughter at 50kg with the aim of securing an average carcass weight of 23kg.
All of the lambs will be processed at ICM, Camolin, Co. Wexford. The lambs’ liveweight and performance is monitored every two weeks to ensure they’re on track for slaughter.
It is hoped that the cover crop will reduce the meal bill for the farm while also working the field into part of a reseeding programme.
The recent frosty weather delayed the grazing of the Tyfon crop and it is hoped that the cold snap did not harm the crop.
Stay tuned to Agriland for more updates on the ABP Demo Farm.