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Aidan Maguire Farmer Update - July 2021

The appetite for grass from all groups of cattle continues to increase as they grow and put on weight. This is most obvious in the spring born calves who are beginning to make an impression on the paddocks they are grazing. The next major task on hand is to weigh all of the cattle on the farm in the coming days to see how they fair relative to the targets set for them.

LocationSystemSoil TypeStocking rate (Lu/ha)Net margin (€/ha)
Antylstown, Co. Meath 19 month early maturing heifers,
20-24 month early maturing steers,
24 month HOFR steers,
24 month autumn born steers
Free draining 2.16 962
DateGrowth (kg DM/ha/day)Demand (kg DM/ha/day)Days aheadStocking rate (Lu/ha)
03/07/2021 47 34 17 3.59
Animal categoryWeight (kg)Grass intake (kg DM/head/day)Meal inputSilage input
2019 autumn steers 545 10.9 - -
2020 spring heifers 413 6.26 - 2
2020 spring steers 432 6.64 - 2
2020 autumn calves 250 5 - -
2021 spring heavy calves 145 2.9 - -
2021 spring light calves 130 1.35 1.25  

The spring born calves have been split into two separate groups to allow for easier management. The heavier calves which tend to be the older half are now off meal and operating on a grass only diet. The lighter/younger half of the calves continue to get 1.25kg of meal per head.

While the older calves have stomachs which are better developed and able to achieve the weight gain needed off grass alone, the younger calves here still need some level of supplementation in order to keep them healthy and thriving over these early stages.

For any calf the target is to achieve an average daily liveweight gain of 0.7-0.8kg over the rearing stage and the first summer at grass. Going off this target I would expect that the heavier group of calves will average 145kg and the lighter group 130kg when weighed.

All cattle on the farm will be weighed in the coming days to gauge accurately where we are relative to the targets set. Knowing the weight and thrive of the cattle is key in making the correct decisions on how to manage them over the coming months and when we can expect the older cattle to be ready for slaughter.

Ground conditions got very dry last week with the early signs of drought setting in. Grass growth rates dropped to as low as 38kg DM/ha/day in late June.

Some bales were fed out in the paddocks to yearling cattle last week in order to slow down the rotation and ensure that the farm did not run out of grass. This has helped the average farm cover increase from 484kg DM/ha last week to 581kg DM/ha this week which is the level I want to keep it at.

In short it’s a case of a stitch in time saving nine, as any further depletion in grass availability on farm would take much longer to correct.

The new reseed of grass and red clover which was sown on the 24th April has established itself well. It got a light grazing off on the 27th June and is now closed for silage. 90 units of urea have been applied to it over the last 2 weeks with an application of slurry earmarked for it after the cut of silage to keep P and K levels up.

This is the first venture I have taken into sowing grass/red clover mixes. The reason for sowing 5 acres of it is to allow for it to be used for continuous silage cutting, producing baled silage high in DMD and crude protein, all while reducing the levels of nitrogen input needed in silage production.


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