It is clear how the weather impacted on the start of the grazing season for many beef farmers and one such farmer included Green Acres farmer, Michael Culhane from Co. Clare.

A participant in the Teagasc Green Acres progamme, calf-to-beef farmer Michael noted how the weather this spring was quite variable for trying to get paddocks fully grazed off.

On February 28, he let his 110 yearling cattle out but following a change in weather and paddocks getting wet, a week later he was forced to rehouse half of the group.

Speaking about the latest situation with grazing on the farm, Michael stated:

“I have the yearlings back out at grass. Overall, about 55% of the farm has been grazed, with all of the silage ground now being fully grazed off.

“This ground has received an application of slurry approximately 10 days ago and I will apply CAN [Calcium Ammonium Nitrate] on this ground as well. Hopefully, the first cut of silage can be taken up around the end of May.”

“The farm also got a cover of 35 units to the acre of urea back in January.”

Sourcing calves for this Green Acres farm

Like most Green Acres farmers this spring, Michael has been buying his new calves directly off farms, with two particular farms being the main source.

The breeds consist of both Belgian Blue and Hereford crosses at a 50:50 ratio split between males and females. In total, there have been 82 calves mainly sired by AI bulls purchased this spring. Commenting on the rearing of calves this spring, Michael stated:

“We have had no issues so far really; the calves were vaccinated on arrival against RSV / Pi3 / pasturella pneumonia.

“The calves are currently being fed on an automatic feeder and eating meal – there seems to be no issue so far.

“In terms of scour, we had no serious incidences really. You could see that some calves were a bit looser in the dung around four or five days after arriving onto the farm as they were acclimatising to the change in diet. Their intakes went slightly down but they were never really sick from this.”

One new feature on Michael’s farm is the conversion of a cubicle shed, which was previously used for the suckler herd on the farm, into a new calf-rearing shed.

Finishing heifers in the coming weeks

At the moment there are 33 two-year-old bullocks which are a mixture of Belgian Blue and Friesians shortly going out to grass.

There are also 23 Belgian Blue heifers just coming up to two-years of age, which are planned to be killed within the next six weeks.

“The heifers are currently getting 2kg of meal in the shed at the minute. They will be heading out to grass along with getting the same levels of 2-3kg of concentrates and will aimed to be killed by the end of May,” Michael concluded.