Beef: Enterprise improves fat scores
As we face into the more traditional November weather I feel it is an opportune time to take stock.
With just one load of finished cattle left to sell and all my store cattle bought-in, a clearer picture is emerging of how my Friesian 'store to beef enterprise' has worked out this year I suppose the main standout feature was the noted improvement in fat scores right from the very first load sold.
This year I had very few cattle that didn't have a fat score of three or more with some actually managing to reach a four.
There was also a noticeable improvement in confirmation with the number of my cattle grading P down by a third. Probably a more important fact was that nearly all my P grade cattle graded a P+. Carcase weights however, only improved by about six or seven kilos on average, which I feel is not that great considering the other improvements. However, it was very welcome nonetheless.
These improvements are all the more interesting when you consider that the summer of 2014 which I'm using as a comparison was itself very good.
The best explanation I have heard for the excellent performance figures experienced this year came from my agricultural consultant. He pointed out that while grass growth may not have been that great, growth was very 'even' right through the grazing season with little or no sudden bursts of extreme growth and no extended periods of poor growth. This resulted in cattle having fresh young grass available to them right through the grazing season which really highlighted how vitally important good grass management is. With nearly all my beef cattle gone, there is a good supply of grass available for my store cattle which continue to thrive well. My average buying-in weight this year is up about 10kgs from last year with some weighing in at over 500kgs.
I am hoping that this will allow me to get cattle sold a bit earlier next year, that is if no problems arises such as a late spring or other unforeseen difficulties. Sometimes, information becomes available which reaffirms a strongly held belief that we may hold. Such was the case when I heard recent media reports about the ongoing 'Aran Life Project'.
What really struck me was the wisdom of the experts involved who spoke of the importance of "information being harnessed from farmers" and how scientific data is now backing up the knowledge of traditional farming practises which have been carried on by the island farmers over the centuries.