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Ger McSweeney September/October Update 2023

Weaning spring born calves

Weaning spring born calves

  • Preparation for weaning this autumn
  • Watch video from Ger’s farm
  • Weaning process on the farm
Managing autumn grass

Managing autumn grass

  • Building covers for the autumn
  • Silage ground back in the grazing rotation
  • Lime spread on low pH paddocks
Farm Walk - All welcome to attend

Farm Walk - All welcome to attend

  • Farm walk on Thurs 7th Sept at 2pm
  • Discussing Ger’s breeding, grass management, financials & reducing carbon footprint
  • Trade stands present to discuss SBLAS, animal health, biodiversity, AI bull choice and more!

Animal Health

Ger is planning to wean the suckler bulls in mid-October and the heifers on 1st November.

Weaning is a stressful period for calves and Ger’s aim is to reduce changes to their environment as much as possible. The calves have been creep grazing paddocks ahead of the suckler cows by going under the electric fence. This helps to break the cow-calf bond and gave them access to the best quality grass while the cows could graze paddocks tighter. It also helps to reduce the worm burden on the calves.

Ger started using nose paddles to wean his calves last year and found that they worked well. One week before weaning, the nose paddles are fitted on the calf. This prevents them for suckling from the cow and helps to break the maternal bond. The herd is then brought in, the calves are separated and have the nose paddles removed and the cows are housed. The bulls are typically kept in the shed too and the heifers go back to grass, weather permitting.

Watch the video below to see Ger’s vaccination protocol and meal feeding pre-weaning. 

Six weeks pre-weaning the suckler calves are vaccinated against respiratory disease – mainly RSV, Pi3 and Mannheimia. Four weeks later, they are given a booster shot to ensure that they have adequate protection before the stressful weaning period. They are not vaccinated against IBR as per veterinary advice.

Calves are then fed ration four weeks before weaning and two weeks after weaning, at an average of 1kg/head/day. This also qualifies them for the Beef Welfare Scheme meal feeding requirement.


As the autumn is drawing closer, Ger is focusing on building grass covers for the autumn. Silage harvesting is now finished since 10th August and second cut averaged 4.3 t DM/ha. This means that the land that was closed up for second cut is coming back into the rotation. This is giving him 23 days of grass ahead and a farm cover of 800 kg DM/ha. Growth is ahead of demand at 45 kg DM/ha versus 35 kg DM/ha.

The target farm cover for 15th Aug is 800 kg DM/ha and this should increase to 1000-1100 kg DM/ha by 1st September. The target days ahead for September is 25 so Ger is on track to achieve this.

21 units of 21-2.2-10 + 3S was spread on the out farm on 12th August. 2t/acre of lime was also spread on 10 paddocks to help increase the soil pH.

Grass wedge 14th August

Figure 1: Grass wedge on 14th August 2023

Bulls calf & his cow grazing fresh grass

Figure 2: Bull calf grazing fresh grass on the farm

Greenhouse Gases - Farm Walk

Join us for a FutureBeef Farm Walk on Ger’s farm in Tooreenbawn, Millstreet, Co. Cork on Thursday, 7th September at 2pm.

Parking at St. Nicholas Church, Kilcorney. Eircode: P51 FW65.  

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Breeding progress 2018-2023
  • Improving grass management
  • Financial performance
  • Future plans to reduce carbon footprint

Trade stands will be there to discuss SBLAS, animal health, biodiversity, AI bull choice and more!

Ger's farm walk ad