Why this 100-cow suckler cow herd is going all AI
Teagasc’s Newford demonstration farm has sold its two stock bulls and is going all AI this year following the successes of 2017, Farm Manager Matthew Murphy revealed at the Teagasc National Beef conference in Tullamore.
He outlined his top tips for success with his 100-cow suckler herd, all first cross Angus and Hereford from the dairy herd. In 2017 Newford used AI with stock bulls to mop up. The combination resulted in a 94pc in calf rate, but Matthew couldn’t justified the use of two stock bulls who produced just 11 of the calves at the farm in Athenry, Co Galway.
Matthew took on all of the AI himself this year. First cross Angus and Hereford cows from dairy were used because they are docile, maternal and have no problem producing milk. The calves are all brought to finishing on the farm and careful thought went into sire selection.
In order to condition the cows before breeding, Matthew selected 22 of the thinner cows who were given concentrated feeding of in November.
They were fed 2kg of soya hulls until the end of December in order to improve their body score to between three and three and a half which helped them come into heat more quickly.
Newford’s sire selection doesn’t go by breed but by a criteria which can be selected on the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) list.
Key for Newford was a 5 Star Terminal, over 80pc reliability, greater than 30kg carcass weight, calving difficulty below 7pc for mature cows and straw costing less than €15.
The cows went to grass full-time in mid March with breeding beginning on April 24. AI was used for six weeks up to June 2, when two stock bulls-Simmental and Limousin with a combined value of €7,500 - were let in for four weeks.