Location: Mount Temple, Moate, Co. Westmeath
Farm size: 58ha
Current system: 21-29 month Friesian steer beef
Local Teagasc advisor: John Kelly
Irvine purchased his first batch of dairy-beef calves in 2012. Previous to this he had 10-12 suckler cows and was buying in 35 weanlings annually; all animals were brought to slaughter. Since then, he has sold out his suckler cows in order to expand his calf-to-beef enterprise.
In the spring of 2018, 90 calves were bought. The majority of the calves on the farm were Aberdeen Angus or Hereford, with a small number of Friesian males. In more recent times, Irvine has moved to purchase predominantly Friesian bull calves from a small number of source herds.
Currently he is farming 58ha in three blocks with 25ha owned and 33.5ha leased. The farm is stocked at 1.88LU/Ha. Throughout the programme Irvine's plan is to focus on grassland management and setting up a paddock system in order to grow more grass and utilise it more efficiently. Once this is achieved, he will aim to increase his stocking rate.
He has installed an automatic milk feeder with two feeding stations on the farm, which greatly cuts down on the labour involved in rearing these calves. Sons Mathew and Evan help out at weekends and evenings with the calves, while his father Pat is on farm helping out most days.
One of Irvine’s biggest problems on the farm was cash flow during the year, so he is trying to put a system in place where he will have 10-12 cattle fit for slaughter each month. Irvine also runs a silage contracting business alongside the farm.