Due to a large number of calves coming from many different sources there is a high disease pressure on the system.
In order to combat this, Michael in conjunction with his local vet, Eamon O'Connell, has implemented a vaccination programme where calves 24 hours after arrival receive their first shot of Bovipast RSP to protect against bacterial and viral pneumonia, Bovilis IBR Live intranasal to protect against IBR and Vecoxan to prevent against coccidiosis.
A booster Bovipast RSP is given four weeks later. Calves are given Covexin 8 prior to turn out to protect against the clostridial diseases and a booster shot given four to six weeks later.
Vaccination won't compensate for poor management
On the day Eamon highlighted that a good vaccination programme in a system like Michael`s is very important but stressed that this alone can't compensate for poor hygiene management.
It is very important that calf rearing is top notch. Plenty of straw should be used to ensure that the calf's bed is dry and warm, there should be a good slope on the floor to remove any seepage and sheds should have good ventilation and no draughts.
Good practice around feeding must be adhered to where all equipment is well washed down and cleaned after each feeding. Milk replacer should be fed at the exact same concentration, time and temperature each day as changes in routine can stress calves and stressed calves equals sick calves.
Having being weaned, calves go to grass full time in groups of approximately 50. They receive excellent quality grass and one kg of a calf nut for the summer.
The calves are weighed regularly and on the day the average for the 130 calves was 202kgs.
As Michael has established more paddocks and reseeded a number of fields over the past few years, he now has top quality grass in front of the aniamls at all times and may reduce the amount of meal fed over the summer in future years.
Castration of the bull calves by burdizzo takes place in September each year.
Depending on weather and ground conditions these calves will be housed in early November at somewhere in the region of 260 - 270kgs.
They will be fed high quality silage and one kg of a 16pc crude protein ration with the aim to gain 80-85 kgs over a 120 day winter.
Early Turnout is Critical to Weight
Michael sees early turnout to grass in the spring as a critical part of achieving a good carcase weights at 22 months.
Grass will have been built up from October and as soon as weather allows, these yearlings will be let out to grass in February. Meal will have been removed two weeks prior to turnout and no meals are fed at grass in the second grazing season. These animals go to grass at an average of 340 - 350kgs.
An average daily at grass of 1.1kgs per day has been achieved over the last number of years and the heaviest 30 animals are selected in mid-August at around 580kgs to start on a finishing programme.
These animals start on two kgs of meal at grass from 15th August and are built up to 5kgs. They are slaughtered in mid-November, reaching carcase weights around 350kgs.
The remaining animals are sold between November and January.
The quality of the stock and the grassland management which could clearly be seen on the day are a credit to Michael and Kathleen.
In the next two years, the Flynn`s plan to increase to 170 calves reared, selling a minimum of 162 steers each year allowing for a mortality rate of 5pc over the lifetime of the animal.
Gordon Peppard is programme advisor for the Teagasc Calf to Beef Programme