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Simplifying the system in Sligo

Glen McDermott will fly the flag for Sligo as he represents the county for the Teagasc/Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm Challenge. Glen ably assisted by his son Dillon runs a 41ha suckler farm in Castlebaldwin selling weanlings in the back end of the year. Land type is variable in nature with approximately 60% of the land dry and free draining, while the remaining 40% is of a heavy, low-lying nature with productivity being extremely poor.

Glen has a split calving system, calving down 22 cows in the Autumn and a further 20 in Spring. Coupled with this he also works full-time off farm running a local pub and restaurant.

Recently, the programme team completed Glen’s farm plan working with local B&T Advisor Peter Mullan. Going forward the system is to become more streamlined and all cows will be calved in early Spring. Calving in early spring ties in well with his off-farm job as January and February are the quietest months of the year.

Cashflow was highlighted as a big issue on the farm with the majority of sales coming in October and November. Glen has invested significantly in infrastructure over the past decade so holding onto progeny for longer and moving away from selling weanlings makes sense given the accommodation exists on the holding. However, soil fertility is a serious issue on the farm and in particular lime. The entire farm is deficient in lime and since joining the programme 86 tonne of lime has been spread to date. If Glen can get the farm growing more grass he has the potential to be one of the top performers in phase 3.