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John Dune July/August 2023



  • Staying on Track for the main summer months
  • Building covers in August
  • 20 units of Protected Urea /acre applied
  • Forage Rape sown in August


  • Getting the calves to “forward graze”
  • Drafting to finish before housing
  • Dairy x calves on 1kg of meal


As a dry farm the wet weather in July suited the farm. Growth rates averaged 42kgs/DM/ha and with demand at 38kgs/DM/ha , John did not apply any fertiliser on the outfarm in Rathfeston for six weeks. The farm is not heavily stocked at just over 2l.U/ha .  Therefore 14ha will be  removed as surplus grass in order to speed up the rotation. Currently there are 43 replacement heifers and 159 (0-1) grazing in Rathfeston.

John Dunne grass wedge July August 2023 pic 1

Picture 1: Covers in Rathfeston in August 2023

John Dunne July August 2023 grass wedge

At the end of August , farm cover dropped to 596kgs/DM/ha so John applied 20 units of Protected urea per acre. This is to build covers for September and October .

John has decided to grow 7ha of forage rape . In preparation for the crop , he applied 2000gals of slurry /acre using LESS. The fields will be powerharrowed and sown by the end of August. The fields chosed had poor quality grass and were infested with docks. The plan is to grow rape now and put it into barley in spring 2024.

The weanlings will be grazed on the forage rape for the winter. There is a good lie back area adjacent to block.

Picture 2: Slurry applied to 7ha intended for forage rape


The dairy x calves will be weighed by the end of the month but John is happy with their performance .  Thankfully, there has been very little health issues this year . The vaccination protocol and buying the calves from just a small number of sources locally has paid dividends.

John is giving the calves 1 kg of meal/head/day and aiming to keep them on ideals covers of 1000kg/DM/ha which can be a challenge at times. On a visit in August ,we decided to move the calves from the covers below to lighter ones. 

 Picture 3: Grass covers too heavy for the calves 

This year, John is trying to forward graze the suckler calves . This will ensure that they will have priority access to the best grass without competing with the cows. It will also allow more controlled feeding of meal to the weanlings. John invested in a stronger electric fence to keep the cows under control! And this has helped.

There are 8 (2.5yr) cattle in Rathfestion which will be drafted into a group of their own and fed meal for the next 6 weeks. They will be fit for slaughter before housing .

 Picture 4: More suitable grass for the calves 


The 43 replacements heifers were scanned and 45% are in calf to AI. All of the heifers were put on a synchronised program in May . John would have liked to have hit 60%. An angus bull ran with the group to mop up. They will be scanned again in the next few weeks. The bulls were removed of July 17th in order to tighten up the calving period. There are 57 cows on the homeblock . 

Picture 4: Selection of the replacement heifers