Keeping it simple... to ensure a thriving beef, sheep, pig and tillage enterprise
Fine-tuned grassland management allows the O'Connor family run a thriving beef, sheep, pig and tillage enterprise
'Simplicity is the key," says farmer Thomas O'Connor. There are not too many farms in Ireland where you will see over 100 young bulls grazing together in harmony in one paddock, but it is this unique approach that gives the O'Connor family the edge when it comes to successful farming.
"Most farmers will have them split into groups of 20, but the way we work here works very well for us," he added.
The unique feature of this farm is the way the O'Connors paddock graze the cattle in large groups during the grazing season, as opposed to most beef farmers who divide their animals up into small grazing groups of up to 30 or 40. Their system reduces the workload.
All the grazing area is divided into two-hectare paddocks. The 90 cows and their 90 calves along with four breeding bulls graze out one hectare in one day. They get a new paddock daily. The paddocks for the other two groups of bulls and heifers are temporarily subdivided in half so that each half of the paddock is grazed out in one day. Again the aim is to graze out a one-hectare paddock in two days. They get better utilisation by grazing out in one day.
The O'Connors believe that using the same paddock for a number of days retards re-growth. There is no doubt that it is their exceptional grassland management that ensures a high return, year on year and one which will garner great interest during the farm walk on Thursday afternoon.
Together with his parents Monica and Tom, Thomas now runs one of the most successful farms in the country. Comprising beef, sheep, pigs and tillage over 242 acres, it is an incredibly busy operation for 12 months of the year.
"It's certainly one of the nicest farms I have seen in over 30 years," commented Christy Watson of the Irish Grassland Association.