John Joyce: Why we introduced Simmental bloodlines into our herd
The latest addition to our breeding policy has been the purchase of a Simmental bull in the spring. While we use some AI and a Limousin bull, I have a number of reasons for introducing some Simmental bloodlines into our herd.
The cows themselves are mainly a Limousin cross. As of recent years I am trying to breed and retain our own replacements.
While these are excellent heifers conformation-wise, they may lack on the milk side. I am hoping the Simmental will breed a quality replacement by these Limousin cows; which can then be crossed back to a terminal sire like a Charolais or Limousin.
In the past I have relied on the dairy industry for replacements. These had plenty of milk but I found their offspring just didn't grade well when sent to the factory, regardless of the quality of the bull that sired them.
Secondly, the new cross should put higher growth rates in the cattle as I reckoned they were going a little too pure in their breeding.
Thirdly, as we finish all the cattle, the Limousin-Simmental crosses should be easier to finish with a higher fat score. This new bull has good figures and is both 5 stars for maternal and terminal traits - so will also qualify for the BGDP.
When purchased he was 850kgs and 17 months old. I decided to go for a strong but fit animal with a bit of age, so that he would cope with the demands of the breeding season.
As always this bull was monitored closely for the first few weeks of the breeding season - especially since he was new to the farm.
All the cows that he served were recorded on a daily basis. This will be handy for calving dates, and also to see if he was fertile and working correctly. To date I have only noticed one or two repeats, which would be seen as normal.
At the moment it is very frustrating to be a suckler-to-beef farmer. On the one hand we have the BGDP and BEEP schemes aiding farmers to breed better stock and making them aware of the weight gain of their animals - and most farmers are doing their best with the resources they have available to them and are purchasing these top star bulls at the high end of the market - but on the other side we are being told the cow is inefficient, the herd is a major polluter and it needs to be downsized.
In addition, there is, I believe, no great leadership or drive in the industry to secure a greater share of the returns from the marketplace that farmers deserve for the premium product they produce.
For a start everybody knows the beef grid is out of date and the U grade bonuses don't go far enough in rewarding farmers for the type of animal they have produced.
Maybe it's time farmers were paid on the meat yield of these top quality carcasses, as is done in other countries.
This week I will to do a spring clean of all the waste plastic on the farm. There is the annual recycling collection of the plastic in our local mart of Portumna on June 13. It is also a requirement for the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme.
I find this a great service as it keeps the farmyard tidy. And as we have already contributed to the cost of the service by way of a levy on the new polythene so why not make best use of it.
This year I have gone one step further as I had all the netting and empty spray drums bagged in the half ton bags.
This way it kept the netting clean and stopped it blowing around the farmyard. It is also a great way to dispose of the empty spray containers.
Again it is amazing the amount of spray containers that are used on a farm and need to be disposed of in a clean and an environmentally safe manner.
Other ways can be a lot more expensive and it is always interesting to see waste off a farm being recycled and used again for another purpose.
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