Green fingers: Change of grazing strategy
A change of grazing strategy is yielding results for Westmeath farmer Conor Greene, reports Ann Fitzgerald
Establishing a new paddock system has been the single most important factor in "turning the farm around" in terms of grass production.
Conor Greene, who also works as a carpenter, returned to Ireland in 2012 where he took over the family farm, having spent five years in Australia, working mainly outside of agriculture.
Conor's dad, Tommy, who passed away three years ago, traditionally fattened 50-60 Friesian steers at about 30 months of age. "It was a nice simple set-stocked system that worked fairly well," says Conor who hosted a Teagasc Green Acres event on his Co Westmeath holding.
He decided to stick with rearing calves. "I had milked a few cows but a few was enough and we never had sheep," Conor says succinctly.
But he has increased numbers steadily, up to 70 before joining the GreenAcres programme. He has increased herd numbers to 112 this year and next year he plans to move to 120.
The 66ha farm is laid out in a single block. Like many people, he first laid out temporary paddocks using wire and pigtail holders but has since gone down the permanent route, using the Clipex system which attracted a lot of interest from other farmers on the day.
Conor had seen it in operation in Australia where it is made and decided to use it himself when he found out it was available here, his local supplier being James Geoghegan of Tyrellspass.
The system is comprised of galvanised steel poles of varying lengths which have a clip-in system for wires and can be used with various wire types, high tensile, barbed and even sheep wire.