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John Barry November/December Update 2023

Autumn herd update

Autumn herd update

  • Autumn calving finished
  • Breeding started on 30th October
  • AI bulls selected for heifers, maternal traits and terminal traits
Winter diets

Winter diets

  • Silage samples taken
  • John is happy with the results & is feeding balanced diets based on them
  • Silage pit will be sampled when open
Latest weights

Latest weights

  • Spring weanlings weighed
  • Store cattle weighed
  • Will be weighed over winter period to ensure they are gaining 0.6kg/day


Autumn calving finished for John on 1st November. He was happy with the calving season which lasted 11 weeks and resulted in 30 live calves with only 1 mortality due to an unusual maggot attack.

Breeding started on 30th October. Ten heifers and 29 cows will be bred in total, which includes 9 late calving cows. Two cows will be culled due to age and a lack of milk. 16 were bred in the first 2 weeks of the breeding season and the vasectomised bull is working well to identify cows in heat.

Based on the September Eurostar evaluations, John has selected the following AI bulls for his autumn cows;

  • Heifers: Will be bred to LM5887 and ZEP which are both good on the replacement index.
  • Maternal cows: Will be bred to LM5887 and CH4202 which are good replacement bulls.
  • Terminal cows: Will be bred to CH8169 (high cow calving difficulty figure of 19% so cows will be picked carefully), BB8736 and LM6529.

As an example of one of the bulls selected for heifers, ZEP has a replacement index of €113 and a beef heifer calving difficulty figure of 3.4% at 98% reliability. His daughter milk figure is +7.4kg and the daughter calving interval is -3.2 days. He is low on carcass weight at 6kg but ideally suited to heifers.

CH4202 is a good replacement Charolais bull and has a replacement index of €162. His daughter milk figure is 8.4kg and he has a daughter calving interval of -1.66 days. His carcass weight is 40.2kg and carcass conformation is 1.68 so he will still produce a good beef animal as well.

BB8736 is one of the terminal bulls that John selected and he has a terminal index of €102. His beef cow calving difficulty figure is 7.7% and his carcass weight is 23.1kg, with 2.49 on conformation.

The September Eurostar evaluation for John’s herd shows that the replacement index for the cows is €99. The carcass weight figure is 20kg, the daughter milk is 4kg, the daughter calving interval is 0.54 days and the docility is 0.01.

At a replacement rate of 20%, John will need at least 8 heifer replacements to come into the herd each year. That means that at least 16 cows/heifers will have to be bred to maternal bulls to produce enough replacements. 16 cows have replacement indexes over €94 and these can be bred to bulls with replacement indexes over €140 to produce 5 star potential replacement heifers. However the daughter milk, daughter calving interval and carcass weight will be checked for each one to pick a bull that complements them.

Autumn cows lying in shed with calves

Figure 1: Autumn cows with calves

Animal Nutrition

John is currently feeding silage bales to the cattle and took samples from them. They tested as follows;

  • Surplus silage:
  • 9% DMD with 13.3% crude protein at 46.7% dry matter (cut 26th June)
  • - Red clover silage:
  • 7% DMD with 13.12% crude protein at 27.63% dry matter (cut 18th August)

Overall John was happy with the results and will sample the silage pit when it is opened. He will also send a sample from the pit for a mineral analysis to identify any potential mineral issues, and can buy a complementary pre calving mineral for his spring calving cows based on the results.

Based on the silage sample results, John will balance diets for the winter and feed:

  • Autumn cows: 70.9% DMD silage & 2kg of a 14% CP ration
  • Weanlings: 69.7% DMD silage & 1kg of a 14% CP ration
  • Stores: 69.7% DMD silage & 0.5kg of a 16% CP ration (These are currently out wintered)

The weanlings have been weighed and John will monitor them over winter to ensure they gain their target 0.6kg/day.

A batch of cull cows are housed in the new shed and are eating 8kg ration/head/day, along with haylage. John plans to sell them at the end of November.

Silage sample result

Figure 2: Red clover silage sample result


The weanlings were weighed on 18th November to establish a housing weight. The spring born bulls (20) averaged 339kg and gained an average of 1.13kg/day since their previous weighing on 30th September.

The spring born heifers (21) averaged 288kg and gained 0.9kg/day since 30th September.

Three autumn 2022 bullocks were also weighed and averaged 376kg, after gaining 0.66kg/day since 5th August. Two of their heifer comrades averaged 419kg and gained 0.43kg/day in the same period.

Two spring 2022 bullocks weighed 474kg on average and gained 0.84kg/day since 5th August. Five of the spring 2022 heifers averaged 470kg and gained 0.62kg/day over the same timeframe.