This Roscommon beef farmer explains why he wants each animal to have a shorter stay on his farm, and what steps he’s taking to achieve his goal
The recent good weather has made farming life very enjoyable. A lot of jobs have been done over the last few weeks without having to watch the weather forecast the previous night.
While other parts of the country have suffered from drought, with farmers feeding silage to supplement grass, the fine spell has really suited a ‘heavy’ farm like mine. Currently, grass growth rates are over 40kgDM/ha/day, and I am fortunate to have 30 days of grass ahead.
Before the rain came at the end of August, I applied 38pc protected urea at 15 units/ac, and the response has really lifted grass growth. So I have enough grass to get to the end of October, which would be a real bonus around here.
The good ground conditions are allowing the cows to graze out the grass tightly to 4cm easily.
They are not that happy for the last 12 hours of grazing on each paddock, but getting the cover of grass grazed off is very important for future growth.
In late July I started using the horse posts to lift the wire and allow the calves to creep-graze. And then in late August I started to introduce meal creep feeding.
I am conscious that autumn grass doesn’t have the same kick in it and I need to keep these animals performing if I want to pull back their age at slaughter.
It’s a cost but in the longer term it’s an investment that will pay at slaughter, and it’s also good for the environment. The shorter an animal’s stay on the farm, the lower the emissions.
We have weaned the calves. All calves were fitted with the yellow nose-pads six days prior to weaning. After 24 hours, 2-3 of them were missing and last week I had nine out of 35 missing, so we weaned late last week.
The cows were housed for a few days and fed hay until they dried off; it is back out grazing after that.
I weighed the weanlings recently as part of the BEEP scheme and I am very happy with the results.
The 200-day average weight for the bulls was 300kg, which is right on target. They ranged from 161kg to 367kg. Their average daily gain was 1.27kg.
The few light bulls pulled down the average a lot. The lightest of these animals were twins out of a first-time calver.
The 200-day weight for the heifers is on average 280kg, with a range of 220-338kg. The target weight for these heifers was 250kg so they did very well.
Their average daily gain was 1.19kg/day. I put that down to a combination of breeding and management.
These weighings are really useful for keeping me on track. It allows me to take action where animals are below target.
Shane Keaveney farms at Granlahan, Co Roscommon. His advisors are Charlie Devaney and Gabriel Trayers