Diary date: On-farm dairy calf-to-beef masterclass planned for Co. Kilkenny
Farming in Kiljames, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, Thomas and Peter O’Hanrahan will host the first farm walk of the second phase of the Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme – on Thursday, October 10, at 2:30pm.
The father-and-son duo run a dairy calf-to-beef enterprise on 90ha of grassland; an additional 12ac are in forestry.
Originally, a suckler-to-beef operation took centre-stage on the farm, with Peter working off-farm as an electrician.
However, after Peter completed a two-year stint in Teagasc’s Kildalton College, a calf-to-beef enterprise was introduced on the farm in 2014 and the sucklers were phased out.
To get the ball rolling, seven calves were purchased; this quickly increased to 20, 60, 80 and, then, 160. A target of 180 was set for this year. All going well, another 180 calves will be purchased in spring 2020.
Going forward, 70 Holstein Friesian steers will be brought to beef off grass at 28 months and 110 will be finished out of the shed aged 24 months.
Peter puts a lot of emphasis on buying the right calf. He is a firm believer in buying direct off farms and has built up good relationships with dairy farmers in his locality.
A new calf shed has been built under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) on the farm, which Peter designed himself, and calves are fed via an automatic feeder installed in this unit.
Along with the new calf house, a new five-bay slatted unit – equipped with 26ft-wide pens and double slatted tanks located either side of the feed passage – was also constructed under TAMS.
While the housing facilities on the farm are excellent, since the programme started, a special focus was placed on paddock size and layout. Soil fertility issues are also being addressed on the farm.
The farm walk
As part of the farm walk, visitors will move around to a number of different stations and demonstrations.
Station 1: The first stop will involve a grazing demonstration.
Station 2: Visitors will then move into Peter’s finishing unit, which was recently constructed under TAMS. In addition, 560kg (approx weight) Friesian bullocks – destined for finishing – will be on display.
Station 3: The discussion will then move into the weanling shed on the farm.
Station 4: The purpose-built calf rearing unit will be the next stop, which was also constructed recently.
Station 5: Discussions here will be focused around the Beef Emergency Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme.
Station 6: The final talk will be based around the carbon footprint of beef operations.
Time and place
The farm walk – which is open to both beef and dairy farmers – will take place on Thursday, October 10, 2019, on the farm of Thomas and Peter O’Hanrahan in Kiljames, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny (Eircode: R95 VH01) at 2:30pm sharp.
Peter, Teagasc staff and representatives from the stakeholders involved will be on-hand to answer any questions or queries you may have.