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November 2017

Blazing a trail in Ballina

All of the new BETTER Farm Challenge participants share a common goal – to reach their potential as beef farmers. In reaching their potential they must produce as much beef as possible off grass. Tommy Holmes BETTER farm representative for Mayo is leading the way in terms of growing and utilizing grass among the group of BETTER Farmers around the country. Although he operates a small enterprise comprising of 18ha’s, he is serious about making a healthy profit with a projected gross margin target of €1,557/ha.

It has been a tough month of September for all farmers given the challenging ground conditions with rainfall figures rocketing. Tommy’s nearest weather station in Knock recorded 170mm for the month of September in comparison to 103mm for the same month last year. The considerable increase in rainfall has made life very difficult to graze swards out and even keep stock out on many farms in the Northwest. Tommy however, has kept his head up taking it day by day moving cattle regularly and getting through ground without poaching.

In mid-September he made the decision to house his bulls as they were touching into 500kilos and he felt there wasn’t the same kick in the grass. He also split his 20 cows into two groups giving them 12 hour allocations using temporary reels and pigtails, ensuring cows were content having fresh grass under their noses at all times also minimising poaching. He currently has an Average Farm Cover of 1379kgDM/ha and plans on housing all cows and calves by 1st November.

Tommy has mastered the art of grassland management if he can improve the quality of stock inside his farm gate he will most certainly be one to watch!