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Saturday 3 December 2016

Farm walk show-cases move from suckling to calves

Published 07/09/2016 | 02:30

Michael Flynn on the farm at Puckane, Co Tipperary
Michael Flynn on the farm at Puckane, Co Tipperary

Michael and Kathleen Flynn are hosting a Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef farm walk on Wednesday, September 14 at 2.30pm

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The event will focus on the Flynns production system, herd health and financial performance.

The Flynns farm 57 hectares of land at Killard, Puckane, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. Traditionally they kept autumn calving suckler cows, slaughtering bulls at 16 months and heifers at 18 to 20 months.

A couple of years ago Michael and Kathleen started rearing a small number of Hereford bull calves from the dairy herd and slaughtering them as steers at 22 months.

Having done well with the initial bunch of bucket reared calves, they have steadily increased the numbers of artificially reared calves to 100 in 2015. The suckler cow herd had been reduced to 27 cows and followers at this stage also.

As part of the Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef programme, the plan for Michael and Kathleen is to exit the suckler cow enterprise altogether by selling the cows with calves at foot in the autumn. One hundred and thirty calves were reared this spring and this will be increased to 150 in 2017 and to 170 in 2018.

The Flynn farm is a dry farm allowing them to get out to grass early in the spring and maximise the number of days grazing. Michael is an excellent grassland manager, achieving excellent weight for age with his stock, with a large proportion of this weight gain coming from grazed grass.

All the calves are purchased in the February to early April period and are predominantly Hereford bull calves from the dairy herd.

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These calves are reared on milk replacer plus concentrate for the first ten weeks and then go to grass for their first grazing season. They are housed in mid to late November and fed silage and concentrates. Level of concentrate supplementation is based on the quality of the silage.

Following a second year at grass the steers are slaughtered from November 1 to mid-January at 22 months old.

They are finished on 6-7 kgs of concentrates for approx. 60-70 days with excellent slaughter weights averaging 360kg achieved. The plan for Michael over the course of the Teagasc Green Acres programme is to drive output on the farm and to try and sell more kilos of beef per hectare by utilising more grass. To achieve this, Michael is making a few adjustments to his farming practices.

A grassland plan has been put in place where he is making better use of grazed grass through the introduction of more paddocks, increasing soil fertility levels and the reseeding of old pastures.

Vaccination

Calves are purchased as early as possible in February/March so that a strong calf will go to grass in the first season, this will allow more of the steers to be slaughtered off grass before the second winter period.

Due to the increasing number of calves to be reared a comprehensive animal health plan has been put in place in conjunction with his local vet, focusing on a good vaccination programme so that disease does not enter the herd.

As calf numbers increase Michael may need to look at the option of building a new calf rearing shed over the next year or two.

There will be excellent information available on the day with speakers from Teagasc and local veterinary practitioner Eamon O`Connell MCRVS available to answer any queries in relation to calf to beef systems.

All are welcome to attend. Event will be signposted from the ABP factory in Nenagh. The factory is located on the Nenagh to Borrisokane road.

This farm walk is also a DAFM approved KT event.

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