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Aonghusa farms with his wife Olivia and daughter Kaylain in Tullira, Ardrahan, Co. Galway. He is part-time farming and working full-time off farm as a secondary school teacher, teaching construction, DGC and agricultural science.
Farms 58Ha, 22 in Ardrahan, Co. Galway and 26 in Tulla, Co. Clare, 36km away. 44.8Ha is owned and 13.2Ha is rented. The farm in Ardrahan is mostly free draining soil but in one section there is a large proportion of low lying, heavy natured land that is prone to flooding. Much of the land in Tulla is free draining soil with the exception of 2ha of historically reclaimed bog and 4ha of shallow land with some surface rock.
He is stocked at 72 Kg/N ha, but the plans are to increase stock numbers on the Tulla farm through either contract rearing or buying in dairy cross weanlings. Aonghusa runs 30 spring calving suckler cows, with calving starting in February. Exceptional calves may be sold as weanlings but all other progeny are brought through to slaughter. Heifers are slaughtered off grass at 20-22 months at ~300kg carcass weight, Steers are slaughtered off grass at 28-30 months at ~420kg carcass weight, Bulls that are 440kg+ live weight at weaning are pushed on to slaughter under 16 months at 380-400 kg carcass weight. Aonghusa is using both AI and a stock bull, aiming to increase the overall ai use in the herd.
The home farm in Galway is highly stocked, supporting all 30 cows and their progeny all year round. The farm is paddocked with weekly grass measurements being taken with a grasshopper and recorded on pasturebase. Each paddock is cut at least once throughout the season to maintain quality and Aonghusa was able to make enough silage from surplus bales this year to feed all the cows for the winter. Additional infrastructure is being added to improve grazing management on the Tulla farm and this is an ongoing project. The farm is growing good covers of grass but the utilisation and management of this is difficult until the grazing infrastructure is improved.
Aonghusa has ample slurry storage and housing for his cattle. A new slatted shed with a creep area was built in 2019 ease the management and calving of the cows at home.
His Teagasc Advisor is Mícheál Kelly.
No. of cows: 30
Cow replacement index: 104
Heifer replacement index: 101
Calves per cow per year: 0.86
Aonghusa is aiming to maintain his cow numbers at between 30-35 cows on the homefarm depending on how well his grass supply is. He is using the mooheat detection system and a teaser bull to try and increase his AI usage on the farm, hopefully leading to him breeding his own replacements and improving the quality of all progeny. Grass is being measured weekly on the homefarm but he aims to focus now on creating a paddock system on the tulla farm to allow him to better manage his grass and to increase his productivity. He aims to increase his stocking rate in Tulla in a gradual process over the coming years. He is currently using protected urea, clover incorporation and LESS technology and he aims to utilise the latest technologies going forward to increase his productivity in a sustainable manner while also reducing his fertiliser usage.