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Sunday 4 December 2016

Beef: We all have stars in our eyes these days

John Joyce

Published 07/10/2015 | 02:30

John Martin from Centenary Thurles Co Op chats with Cyril Greally from Newtown, Nenagh at the Teagasc Open Day Farm Walk last week on Michael Murphy's farm in Nenagh Co. Tipperary. Photo: Steve Humphreys.
John Martin from Centenary Thurles Co Op chats with Cyril Greally from Newtown, Nenagh at the Teagasc Open Day Farm Walk last week on Michael Murphy's farm in Nenagh Co. Tipperary. Photo: Steve Humphreys.

Last month I made my annual trip to the Ploughing and the conversation among suckler farmers was dominated by one topic - star rating. We could have been mistaken for hotel managers with all our talk about four and five stars or the lack on them.

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I am still trying to get my own head around the Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP), but I was very happy with my own herd report that had over 40pc of the cows at either four or five star. There were similar results for the heifers and calves. The main stock-bull is five star in both replacement and terminal indexes so this should be a great help when trying to meet the targets for 2018 and 2020.

However, I was very disappointed with one part of the report on five heifers that I purchased specifically for breeding only to find out they had no star rating at all.

I phoned the ICBF and they told me that no sire was registered at birth, and I am not sure how I can fix this. I have also received a list of animals and accompanying tags for the genotyping.

I tagged these animals on the day we were scanning the cows. There are now 19 calves with three tags, which some would see as a welfare issue.

Maybe for next year we could have two notch tags for the calves when they have been registered - one for BVD and the other for the genotyping. This should cut down on cost and labour.

Winter housing

Speaking of the scanning, I was very happy with the results. There were three empty cows and these will be housed with the beef heifers when weaned and fattened. One was a great young cow, which was a pity. The other two were getting on in years, so it was probably going to be their last year anyway .

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It is hard to believe that the winter housing of animals is around the corner. With so much grass about I will be trying to utilise the last of it as best I can. This will extend the grazing season and shorten the expensive winter housing period. I have some of the wetter areas of the farm grazed out already, with the dry fields left to be grazed last. The ewes can come in useful at this time of the year to eat off any butt or remaining grass left behind by the cattle.

All is quite on the sheep side of the farm, with the rams running with the ewes. They have all got pour-on and a fluke dose so that disturbance is kept to a minimum while the rams are with the ewes at breeding time. There are now just 40 lambs on the farm left to sell. These should be finished in the next four to five weeks.

On a personal note I was delighted to be awarded a Nuffield 2016 scholarship. I am looking forward to working with Nuffield Ireland and the other five new scholars. This will be a great opportunity and a new challenge for my farming career.

John Joyce farms in Co Tipperary

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