Farming in Meelin, Newmarket, Co. Cork, Edmond Curtin runs a 25-cow, autumn-calving herd of suckler cows, selling some weanling bulls and heifers into the export market, while the remainder are brought to beef on the farm.

Edmond also works for Dairygold as an area sales manager and spoke at the beef tour organised as part of the Macra Annual Conference on Glen South Farm on Saturday last.

“A part-time model is relevant down this neck of the woods; suckling and beef won’t stand on its own, most of us have off-farm jobs,” he told AgriLand.

Edmond also buys in spring-born heifers and brings them to beef, while a calf-to-beef operation has also commenced on the farm, albeit at a small scale.

Autumn-born heifers are targeted to be slaughtered at 16-18 months, while spring-born heifers are killed 22-24 months-of-age. Heifers sold for export would weigh in the region of 380-400kg, while bulls would weigh 400-420kg on average.

“In 2018, the first batch of Aberdeen Angus calves were purchased and they have just gone into the shed; I’m debating whether to finish them or sell as forward stores.

It was an experiment to see how they go and I’m happy with them.

In 2016, Edmond constructed a slatted unit on the farm. The land which is owned and rented is best described as heavy and, given the nature of the land, a six-month winter is never too far away.

“I target three cuts of silage and cut every 40-50 days. I try get the silage right, maximise the quality as with the heavy land it is easier to take quality in summer than graze in spring.

“I’m basically working a system that suits the land type,” he said. “I aim to do the basics right – getting herd fertility right, good liveweight gain and I’m a big advocate of dosing and vaccinating. If you want performance, dosing and vaccination are key,” he explained.

Discussing the current state of the beef farming, he said: “Prices are not sustainable. It’s very hard to see any young guys continuing with it; you can’t stay losing money.

“However, when you’re in a system, you would be inclined to stick with it. If you built it up over the years, you would be saying I’m going to last the road anyway,” he concluded.