I farm Ballinlo, Co full time just outside of Roscommon. I’m married to Grain, a nurse, and we have three children: Aaron, Neil, and Annie. The size of the farm is 27.5 hectares and is divided into three blocks.
In fact, the farm is heavy in nature, with a mixture of clay and peat soils. Over the past several years, I’ve built a herd of 35 milking cows, and that’s the max plan.
My system is simple and farm-friendly, with all male calves under 16 months of age ended up as bull beef, while the calf is hay-hashed or sold as a forward store.
The cow type is primarily a limousine-cellar cross and calving starts in the first week of February.
I want to finish the calf soon and finish in the first week of April. I find that when the payback period is short, I can only focus on that work. It takes the same amount of time to see and pen the cows as it takes to see a cow.
Furthermore, the calves are very similar and can be managed as a group when it comes to feeding/weaning etc.
It is important to me that every cow has one calf every 365 days, so that it has a chance to make a profit from milk feeding.
Over the years I’ve used a cellar bull, which has given me high-genetic-merit, functional, milky cows, but the male offspring were difficult to sell at the mart.
So five years ago I decided to go to 16-month-old Bull Road.
Rising food prices are casting some doubt on the bull’s choice for next year, but I don’t have to make up my mind until Christmas and will review it later in the year.
I also raise my own heifer at the age of two. The best heifer is kept as a replacement and this year there are 12 heifers for bulking.
All these calves weigh 390-400 kg in early May. I won’t need to keep 12, but I will sell some calves next spring.
There is a Charolai bull running with the cows, and this year I decided to use AI on the heifer. I found a vasectomy bull with a chin-ball to detect heat and kept the heifer in a field next to the yard.
I decided to use sexual semen on the heifer to get a replacement for the next year. The limousine bull Lennox was used because it is easily tamed.
Seven came into heat early and were once AI’d. Two of these were repeated and they were given another straw. However, five didn’t come into heat, so I used a PRID on them to bring them to the calf. Nothing has been repeated till date.
These calves will be scanned in early July and any free space will be placed with store heifers and sold later.
The calf was released to the cows on April 28 and will be weaned after 12 weeks, to keep the calving period tight. The last time I saw her active was on May 28, so it looks like February and March of next year will be busy again.
June is a relatively quiet month. So far, the year has been great, with good droughts and rains when needed. I cut the silage in the last week of May and took off another 26ac for a second cut.
As part of the Future Beef programme, there is a greater focus on better use of hay. I have been a part of the Grass focus group for the past several years.
There are many benefits to having a monthly meeting to discuss grassland issues. In our last visit, we visited a field that had been planted with multi-species and red clover clumps last year.
Given the rise in fertilizer prices, there was great interest in the subjects. I have already started changing practices to reduce the total amount of fertilizer used.
I am using more of the solution. Last week, I applied the solution to the bottom cover of grass, that is, 4 cm, using the trail and shoe system. It replaced one round of fertilizer.
In fact, I have not spread the fertilizer on the grazing stage since the end of April, but I have to spread 20 units of Protected Urea/AC in the next week.
At the end of the month, we have a family vacation booked. It would be great to go away and recharge the batteries.