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Ed Curtin March/April Update 2024

Calf update

Calf update

  • 60 dairy beef calves purchased
  • Respiratory disease challenges
  • Sick calves were not moved to once a day feeding
Feed reserves

Feed reserves

  • Fodder drawn from out farm this spring
  • Some feed was also bought in
  • Heavy paddocks cut for silage on out farm on 24th April
Cattle sales

Cattle sales

  • Finishing heifer performance
  • Empty suckler heifer also finished this month
  • Some dairy beef bullocks sold live

Dairy Beef

Ed bought in 60 dairy beef calves this spring – 24 Belgian Blue and Charolais bulls and the remainder Angus bulls and heifers and Hereford bulls. The average price per head paid for the Angus calves was €215 and €320 for the continental calves.

The bad weather this spring has caused a host of problems for Ed’s dairy beef calves. While they were all vaccinated against RSV, Pi3 (Bovilis intranasal) and IBR, they still picked up a respiratory disease which developed into pneumonia in some calves. Ventilation was an issue during the changeable weather – some days the shed was too hot and other days he wind direction changed and the calves were suddenly in a draught.

All calves are now on once a day feeding of replacer per feed, with ad lib access to ration and water. To date 18 calves have been weaned.

CHX and BBX calves

Figure 1: Some of the bought-in dairy beef calves

Animal Nutrition

The difficult spring also helped to deplete fodder stocks on the farm. Fortunately Ed had made a lot of silage on the out farm and brought 28 bales to the home farm from there. He bought in 20 bales at €45 per bale of silage. 25 bales are now left and Ed hopes that this will see stock out to grass.

Cows eating hay

Figure 2: Weaned cows are eating hay to reduce feed demand

He has heavy covers of grass on the home farm which he will not be able to travel on with slurry. Therefore it will be topped up with 30-40 units of nitrogen/acre and he will aim to cut it during the first week of May. It will be important to check that the seed head has appeared before cutting, otherwise it will appear after cutting and the quality of the after grass will decrease rapidly.

Ed took the opportunity to cut heavy paddocks on the out farm which were baled on 24th April. 13 paddocks were cut that yielded 3 bales/acre on average.

Baled silage made on strong paddocks

Figure 3: Strong paddocks have been baled on the out farm

In total, he will need 680 bales of silage at 25% dry matter for next winter. This is based on having 24 cows with calves at foot (eating 2.5kg ration/day) and 60 dairy beef weanlings (eating 1.5 kg ration/day) over a 210 day winter. It also includes 36 finishing cattle eating 7kg ration/day over an 80 day period.

Fodder budget for 2024

Figure 4: Fodder budget 2024 for Ed’s farm


Two of Ed’s suckler heifers were finished on 2nd April. They had an average carcass weight of 313kg, graded U-3+ at 19.1 months of age and averaged €1793/head.

The bought in heifer that didn’t go in calf was finished on 26th April at 19.6 months of age. She was a U-3-, weighed 364kg deadweight and made €2006.

Finished heifer

Figure 5: The heifer that didn’t go in calf was finished at 19.6 months of age at 364kg carcass weight

Eight AAX bullocks were sold live on 11th March. They averaged 289kg and made €820/head on average (€2.84/kg).