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Eamon & Donnchadh McCarthy Update 2023

Autumn calving update

Autumn calving update

  • Autumn calving has started
  • Mineral bolus being given pre-calving
  • Calves are being DNA registered at birth
Fodder budgeting & ration feeding

Fodder budgeting & ration feeding

  • Fodder budget updated
  • Creep feeder purchased for meal feeding calves before weaning
  • Finishing cattle on 4-7 kg/head/day
Latest weights and slaughter performance

Latest weights and slaughter performance

  • Last of the under 16 month bulls slaughtered
  • Finishing heifers weighed on 15th July
  • Cull cow & 2 finishing heifers slaughtered


Autumn calving has started on the farm since mid-July. 21 cows are due to calve in total and 2 are calved as of 20th July. Both calves were born unassisted and are out at grass.

The autumn calving cows and heifers are being gradually transported back from the out block in Youghal 2 to 3 weeks before they are due to calve. They are moving to a bare paddock in front of the house so that they can be easily watched.

At least one heifer that was scanned in calf last December is not showing signs of calving and Eamon thinks she may no longer be in calf unfortunately (#716). All of the autumn cows and calves will be given a mineral bolus before calving which contains iodine, copper, selenium and cobalt. This will supply micro minerals pre-calving and should also cover them for the breeding season.

After calving, the calves are tagged with samples taken for DNA registration and for BVD testing which are sent to separate labs. The calves and their dams are turned back out to grass straight away.

Autumn calves grazing a paddock tightly

Figure 1: Autumn calving cows grazing the paddock in front of the house

Animal Nutrition

The fodder budget for the farm has been updated since second cut silage has been made and 494 bales are available on the farm for this winter. A further 80 bales will be required from surplus paddocks to provide enough feed for 5.3 months for approximately 56 suckler cows, their calves, finishing bulls and for the store heifers.

Eamon and Donnchadh invested in a creep feeder this year to make it easier to feed ration to the calves at grass before weaning. It can be used for the spring calves this autumn and the creep gate can be removed and used as a trough to feed the finishing bulls in the shed over winter. It cost €1600 including VAT. It is 8ft wide and can hold approximately 1.5t ration. It will be put in with the spring herd from September to encourage the calves to start eating ration at least 4 weeks before weaning.

New creep feeder purchased

Figure 2: New creep feeder

Creep feeder

Figure 3: New creep feeder

One suckler cow and 2 autumn 2021 heifers were slaughtered on 21st July. They were fed 4kg ration/head/day with good quality silage and were housed in the straw bedded shed away from the finishing bulls. There are 3 finishing heifers remaining.

The finishing autumn 2022 bulls (7) are being fed 7kg of a 15% CP ration. They are eating a combination of grass and good quality silage and are expected to be finished in November.

The winter barley was harvested on 21st July and appears to have only yielded 2.5t/acre, which is well back on last year’s harvest.

Combine harvesting winter barley

Figure 4: Winter barley being harvested on the farm


The final under 16 month bulls were slaughtered on 3rd July. 24 were killed in total at 15.43 months of age. The average carcass weight was 417kg, the average grade U=3- and he average price per head was €2223. The age at slaughter was almost 11 days earlier than the 15 spring bulls slaughtered in 2022. The carcass weight was 5kg heavier and the price per head was up by €32/head.

The 2022 autumn bulls (7) were weighed on 15th July and averaged 419kg. This ranged from 284kg (bull that broke his leg as a calf) to 494kg. They gained 0.98 kg/day since 2nd April.

The finishing heifers (5) were weighed on the same day and averaged 598kg, and had gained 0.72kg/day since 3rd June.

One cull cow was slaughtered on 21st July. She had a carcass weight of 363kg, graded R=4+ and made €1525. The 2 finishing heifers were 23.5 months in age. They had an average carcass weight of 335kg and both graded R=3=, making €1689/head.

Cull cow

Figure 5: The cull cow slaughtered on 21st July