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James Skehan April Update

Consider breeding options for 2022

Consider breeding options for 2022

  • What are your stock bull’s Eurostar figures?
  • Is your stock bull suitable for breeding replacements?
  • Set breeding start and end dates - match them to grass growth on your farm
Complete a fodder budget for winter 2022

Complete a fodder budget for winter 2022

  • Estimate how much silage you will need for next winter
  • Calculate how much silage you expect to make
  • Ensure silage ground is fertilised appropriately and closed for 6-8 weeks pre-cutting to maintain quality
Cattle sales

Cattle sales

  • Consider selling cull cows live if they are not rearing a calf
  • James sold his heifers to simplify his system. He now has two grazing groups - cows & calves and the yearling bullocks
  • Check mart prices before selling live to estimate what cattle are worth per kg


James is using a 2016 born Limousin stock bull on the farm. He has a terminal index of €132, with a beef cow calving difficulty of 3.6% and beef heifer calving difficulty of 10.4%. His carcass weight figure is 25.4 kg which is higher than the breed average of 23.65kg, and his carcass conformation is 2.47 which is also higher than the breed average of 2.17. James does not plan to breed or keep any replacement heifers from the bull as his replacement index is only €97, his daughter milk figure is -0.3kg and the daughter calving interval is +3.76 days. His beef heifer calving difficulty is also high. James plans to source in calf heifers for future replacements on the farm.

The stock bull has been out with the cows since mid-March and the first served cows are due to start calving on 11th January next year. To give the May calving cows a chance at breeding, the bull will be left with the cows until 16th July (13 week breeding season) so that the latest calving date should be 3rd May in 2023. The cows can be scanned from 30 days after the bull is removed (after 15th August), or 30 days after a serve is recorded to check if they are in calf.

As the farm is heavy in nature and growth is slow to start growing in spring, breeding could be delayed until 16th April next year (start calving 1st February) and it could finish on 25th June to give a 10 week breeding season, or on 9th July to give a 12 week breeding season. This would help cows to calve to grass so that they could be turned out sooner after calving, and would also help compact both the breeding and calving seasons on the farm.


All calved suckler cows and calves are at grass full time on the home farm. The bullocks are at grass full time on the out farm in Kilcredan. No ration is being given to any stock.

James completed a fodder budget for the coming winter and estimates that he will need 419 bales of silage. This is to feed 25 cows for 5.5 months and 45 weanlings for 4.5 months. He estimates that he will make 330 bales of silage this year from dedicated silage ground and surplus paddocks. He also has 105 bales left over from last year which will give him a total of 435 bales of silage. As ration costs are expected to be high for the coming winter, and silage making costs are over €40/bale this year, James aims to make the best possible quality silage that he can by cutting in mid/late May where possible. All closed silage ground has been grazed once and has between fertilised appropriately.


James sold 7 of his LMX home bred heifers on 29th March. They averaged 361kg (range of 280-410kg) and made €2.91/kg

One cull cow was sold live on 31st March. She weighed 560kg and sold for €1060 (€1.89/kg).

The remaining 2 heifers were sold on 12th April. They weighed 363 kg on average and made €2.43/kg.