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Irvine Allen Farm Update August 2021

Both this year’s calves and the yearling bullocks were weighed in early July with the results of the weighing in the table below. The results of these weights are a good benchmark of the efficiency of the system I run at present and are a good guideline for planning ahead for the rest of the year.

The 108 Friesian bull calves reared this spring weighed 133kg on July 8, having achieved an average daily gain (ADG) of 0.64kg/day from birth. This is slightly short of the 0.7kg average daily gain target, which was achieved last year, but it can still be rectified. The focus with these calves for the rest of the year will be to ensure that everything is put in place to allow them to make their housing weight target of 220kg by November 1. Good grassland management, parasite control and accurate meal supplementation will be needed to allow these calves to reach their targets.

The 108 yearling cattle have put on 1.05kg/day since weighing in the spring and weighed 424kg on July 8. This leaves them on target in terms of weight for age as a group. The heaviest 20 of the group (weighing 460-500kg) will be finished in November at 21 months; they should return an average carcass weight of 310kg. Along with weighing well, these animals have an easy-fleshing nature and suit an earlier finish.

The remainder of these cattle will be split between a 24 month finish out of the shed and a 30 month finish off grass next summer. This allows for cash flow at different times of the year, while the quantity of meal needed to finish the more extreme Holstein steers is eliminated due to a grass finish in the third grazing season.

GroupNumberWeightADG from birth - kg/dayADG from last weighing - kg/day
2020 steers  108  424kg 0.76 1.05
2021 steers  108   133kg 0.64

Grassland management

Harvesting of the second-cut silage will take place over the coming days. I am expecting this crop to return c.10 bales/ac, which will leave the total bale count in the yard at 850-900 bales. With lower than expected grass growth rates experienced for large spells of the grazing season so far, less surplus bales have been harvested than what I would have expected.

The total amount of bales needed for the winter is 900, so at present there is still likely to be a small shortfall after the second cut is completed. The grazing ground at home, which is being measured on Pasturebase Ireland, is likely to return more surplus bales before the growing season is finished. This is due to the low demand for grass here and the high average farm cover there is currently.

DateGrowth - kg DM/ha/dayDemand - kg DM/ha/dayDays aheadStocking rate - LU/ha
27/07/2021  39  33  31  1.67 
Animal category Weight - kg Grass intake - kg DM/ha/day Meal input - kg/head/day Silage input - kg/head/day 
2020 steers  445  8.9 
2021 steers  145  2.9 

 The majority of the land here is low in Phosphorous and I am spreading 18-6-12 at 1 bag/ac on all of the grazing ground. The remaining reserves of slurry will also be used on the silage ground in the coming month.


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