Virtual Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme farm walk next Thursday

On Thursday, September 10, we will take our readers on a virtual tour of Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme participant Matin Connolly’s farm.

The second phase of the Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme was launched in the spring of 2019.

Since then, Martin – along with 11 other participating farmers – have been working on implementing farm plans aimed at achieving a net margin of €500/ha before farm subsidies are taken into account.

Martin, who farms part-time just outside Castleplunket, in Co. Roscommon, runs a calf-to-bull beef system on 60ha of fragmented and slightly heavy land.

Each year, he purchases 120 spring-born, dairy-bred male calves and brings them through to slaughter at under 22 months-of-age.

Throughout the day, Martin will explain some of the main aspects of the farm system, how the first 18 months of the programme have gone for him; he will also discuss the targets he is aiming to hit as part the adjusted farm plan.

Topics on the day will include grassland management, silage quality, animal performance and herd health.

Growing grass and improving silage quality

Over the last 18 months, small changes on Martin’s farm have resulted in an additional 200 bales of high-quality forage harvested to date and improved sward quality throughout the grazing season.

Green Acres programme advisor, Seán Cummins, will outline why silage quality is so important for calf-to-beef systems and what steps need to be taken to ensure that a high-quality winter feed is made on farm.

Achieving better weight gain

As part of the programme, all participants are now measuring grass on their farms. Martin finds that – by grass measuring – it has allowed him to make better decisions in terms of grassland management.

Like the other 11 farmers, he uses PastureBase Ireland to keep a better control on pre-grazing and post-grazing covers.

The Roscommon-based farmer will also identify other practices that have led to improved grassland management and utilisation.

Also, programme manager Alan Dillon will outline different target weights – for specific animals – at different times of the year, while also touching on winter nutrition plans.

Achieving good herd health

With a wealth of experience in rearing calves, Martin realises the importance of keeping calves as healthy as possible over the early stages of life and the impact that any setbacks can have on the latter stages of the production system.

Martin will discuss his calf-souring programme, while outlining the steps he takes towards keeping animals thriving on the farm in terms of the right environment along with a vaccination programme.

On Thursday evening, AgriLand beef specialist Niall Claffey will be joined by Martin – and his dedicated programme advisor James Fitzgerald, along with his local Teagasc advisor Gerry Cregg – during an on-farm discussion.

Here, we will dive a little deeper into some of the significant changes that have been implemented on the farm and how these will help the farm’s bottom line.

All the action will be available on AgriLand’s platforms and on Teagasc social media channels. Throughout the day, questions for Martin or the management team can be asked through the Teagasc Twitter or Facebook pages.

The programme is supported by: Drummonds Ltd; Liffey Mills; Volac Ireland; TP Whelehan; MSD Animal Health; and Munster Bovine.