UPDATE: More than 400 farmers attended an Open Day, on the farm of Billy Glasheen, a beef finisher just outside Mullinahone in Co Tipperary, yesterday, Tuesday, 4 March.

This is the first event in a series of 10 open days taking place on the demonstration farms participating in the Better Farm Beef Programme in 2014.

Billy Glasheen joined the programme in 2012 and since then has made some key changes to his farm system, which has resulted in his gross margin increasing from €205 per hectare in 2011, to €707 per hectare in 2013, a 244 per cent increase.

According to Teagasc, this improvement in profitability has been achieved by increasing the stocking rate on the farm and increasing the numbers of animals slaughtered over the past two years.

Teagasc outlined that Billy has also moved from an ad-lib meal feeding system to a grass-based system where a high proportion of the live weight gain is achieved from grazed grass. Billy grew 11.4 tonnes per hectare of grass in 2013 and the plan is to grow 15 tonnes per hectare in 2015 to sustain the proposed stocking rate, it said.

Alan Dillon, Better farm adviser and Joe Hand, Teagasc Business and Technology adviser explained to farmers at the open day how Billy plans to increase the quantities of grass grown and used on the farm through increasing soil fertility, grass budgeting and reseeding old pastures.

Clear simple messages on soil fertility, grass budgeting and making quality silage were delivered at the open day.

Commenting on the day, Adam Woods, Better beef programme manager said: “While confidence is low in the beef finishing sector at the moment, beef finishers must not take their eye off increasing efficiency within the farm gate to improve profitability. Billy has demonstrated how a store-to-beef finishing system can deliver a healthy margin where costs are kept to a minimum by concentrating on grazed grass to maximise output.”

A further three regional open days will take place on the Better farms this spring, in March and April 2014, focusing on farming systems, soil fertility, grass budgeting and making quality silage.

Tuesday, 4 March               Billy Glasheen, Ballingarry, Mullinahone, Co. Tipperary

Tuesday, 11 March            Trevor Minion, Trevalhean, Ballinteskin, Co. Wicklow

Thursday, 20th March            Mark Maxwell, Knockycosker, Ballinagore, Co. Westmeath

Thursday, 24th April              Charlie Crawford, Alt, Castlefin, Co. Donegal

A total of 10 open days will take place during the year on the farms participating Better Farm Beef programme. The programme is supported by ABP, Dawn Meats, Kepak and FBD.

Full analysis is available here