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Farm Update December 2022 - JP Hammersley

Farming in Lattin, Co. Tipperary, JP Hammersley operates a calf to beef system where 70-80 Friesian bull calves are carried to beef. After initially operating a 30-month steer system, JP has made strides through improved animal performance to transition to a 21 and 24-month steer production system. Between October and next spring, the farm will market just over 70 steers. As it stands, 35 of the 2021-born animals have already being slaughtered. Steers destined for the 21-month steer route were identified at the mid-season weighing. In mid-August, hard feeding was introduced while at grass, with these steers offered 4kg/head/day of a high energy ration. The first draft of steers occurred on October 21, when 15 steers were sold.

As ground conditions began to fail in late October, a decision was made to house the remaining steers, at which time they were offered grass silage and the same feeding rate of meal. These animals were housed for a period of approximately three weeks before slaughter. A summary of the slaughter data of these steers is presented in table 1 below. On average as a group of 35, these steers consumed 271kg/head of concentrates over the finishing period at a cost of approximately €114/head. The average length of the finishing period for these steers was 67.7 days.

 Table 1: Slaughter performance of steers on JP Hammersley's farm

BreedNumberMonthsCarcass weight (kg)GradeFat€/kgDays on farm
Angus 3 21 302 O= 3= 5.01 619
Holstein Friesian 30 21.5 305 O- 3= 4.76 624
Shorthorn 2 21.5 298 O- 3= 4.65 626

Remaining steers

At total of 37 2021-born steers remain on the farm. Prior to housing in mid-October, these animals weighed 521kg, so the decision was made to begin meal feeding these animals for sale in late December / early January. After being housed and offered ad-lib silage and 4kg/head/day, another weighing was completed on the farm on November 19. At this point, this steer group averaged 579kg, after gaining 1.39kg/head since being housed. The target is to produce a carcass weight of at least 300kg from these animals, so a liveweight of >600kg is required. However, the level of animal fatness will also be used as a marker of when to draft and once animals reach the desired fat scores they can also be moved off farm.

Weanling weight

All of the weanlings on the farm were also weighed on November 19. With an average date of birth of January 30, these animals weighed 272kg after gaining 0.79kg/head/day from birth and 0.82kg/head/day from the mid-season weighing in July. The target for these animals is to achieve a moderate level of weight gain over the winter months – about 0.6kg/head/day – in order to make best use of compensatory growth. To achieve this, JP has completed silage testing, with an average dry matter digestibility of 70 recorded. With this quality of silage available in the yard, the weanlings will require 1.5kg/head/day meal feeding rates in order to achieve the 0.6kg/head/day target.