Farm walk highlights room for improvements
During the recent Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef farm walk on his farm in Enfield, Co Meath, Ben Sweeney outlined the farming systems on his farm at the start of the programme and the plans he has for the next few years.
Ben, originally from Galway moved to Enfield in the 1980s and today he and his son Joseph farm over 260ac of owned land with a further 80ac rented.
There are 25 suckler cows and followers on the farm at present and up to 200 calves are reared each year. These calves are primarily Friesian bull calves that are intended for slaughter at 18 to 20 months.
It is critically important that anyone intending to produce bulls at this age would talk to their factory agent in order to ensure that you have an outlet for this type of animal.
Ben also has some tillage on the farm, with triticale grown in 2015 which is currently being used as whole crop silage. Previously Ben grew maize but this practise has ceased since joining the programme.
The calves are reared using different methods. Around 120 calves are reared on a Volac automatic feeder with the remainder on teat feeders and this year Ben had 50 calves reared on contract off farm. These will be returned to the farm after they are weaned.
To maximise use of the automatic feeder, a number of batches are reared throughout the year, with one batch reared before Christmas and generally two batches reared in the spring.
Ben plans to tighten up his many finishing systems. Friesian bull calves bought in the autumn and the early born spring calves will be left run as bulls for finishing at 18 months or earlier.