The €1,000/ha profit target for the Derrypatrick suckler herd still stands, despite the herd's abysmal calving performance, Teagasc management in Grange have insisted.
Herd manager Denis Minogue said that achieving €1,000/ha is still his goal for the herd, despite the high calf mortality and Caesarean section rate in the herd this season.
Mr Minogue only took charge of the Grange programme six weeks ago after earlier breeding and feeding decisions were made by previous management. He said that his full focus was now on getting cows back in calf as quickly as possible.
As reported in the past week, 10 cows from the original herd and four from 10 bought-in replacement animals underwent caesarean sections after the herd was fed second-cut, low-DMD silage ad lib during the winter.
The eight C-section cows were in calf to Belgian Blue, Simmental and Blonde bulls, two C-section heifers were in calf to Blonde bulls and the four C-section replacement cows were in calf to bulls incorrectly identified by the sellers.
However, Mr Minogue has clarified some details about the calf mortality rate, which was inaccurate due to a jumbo tag mix-up.
In fact, 10 calves from 115 calvings died before, during or within 24 hours of birth. Six of the dead calves were from the original 93 Derrypatrick animals, while four were from the 22 bought-in replacements. Another calf was lost when its dam crushed it at a few days old.
The analysis shows that the overall mortality rate was significantly increased by the bought-in replacements, who had a calf mortality rate of 18pc. In comparison, six dead calves from the 93 original Derrypatrick cows translates to a considerably lower mortality rate of 6.45pc.
Mr Minogue said that while 90 days was the standard time for a C-section cow to heal, he was hopeful that some cows could be back within 60-70 days, although he conceded that some could develop womb abnormalities due to the invasive procedure.
Scanning is expected to take place around mid-July and management decisions will be made depending on the scan results.
While the manager conceded that the Derrypatrick herd had not impressed farmers so far, he insisted that the project was still in its early stages.
"Some people may criticise it as a waste of time and resources but if we come across situations like this, we can save farmers from making the same mistakes," he maintained.
"If any farmer went out to buy a large number of animals, it would take until year two or three for things to start settling down," he said.
"We need time to develop a workable system that can make an impact on the industry."