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Improving grazing, streamlining calving

Michael farms part time with the help of his father John just outside Thomastown in Co.Kilkenny. The land is divided in two blocks; there is 44ha in the home block which would be heavy ground while 16ha of an out farm would be much drier type soil.

Grazing infrastructure on the farm has improved immensely since the start of the programme. The numbers of grazing divisions have increased from 10 to over 50 with a lot permanent fencing erected and extra water troughs installed. Along with the extra paddocks a lot of reseeding of older less productive swards has taken place over the last few months.

Michael moved from spilt calving pattern to 100% autumn calving system this year. Currently there are 70 autumn calving cows and the aim is to increase numbers to over 100. Calving takes place from 10th of July to 10th of September and this year over 75% of cows calved in the first 5 weeks. To facilitate the extra cows a 3 bay slated shed with a 25 foot lie back is in the process of been erected. Michael has a keen interest in breeding and is very focused on breeding stock with maternal traits. The majority of cows are served using AI, with high maternal Simmental, Charolais and Limousin bulls mainly used. An easy calving Aubrac stock bull is let with the heifers and this year over 30 maiden heifers will be served. In the current system bulls are sold between 8 to 12 months with the heifers sold at a slightly older age. The plan in years to come is to continue selling males at a similar age and to sell surplus heifers in calf at 2 years old.