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John Dunne May/June 2023



  • Dealing with drought conditions
  • Application of 18.6.12
  • Dock control
  • Silage 2 weeks late but 110 acres is made
  • Some surplus grass made as Hay


  • 107 dairy bred calves are weaned
  • 21 lighter calves still on once-a-day
  • Meal feeding at grass


  • Breeding starts earlier this year
  • Plan to use more AI using a synchronisation programme
  • Infertile bulls culled and replaced


It was two very contrasting months in terms of grass growth and ground conditions for the farm. Even on this dry farm, cows and calves were re-housed in early May due to the continuous rainfall. This was  not an ideal scenario and breeding was starting. By the beginning of June, the growth slowed to just 17kgs/DM/ha/day as a result of the prolonged dry spell. Fortunately, the rain returned and growth picked up again. 

 John applied 2 bags of 18.6.12/acre in mid June to increase grass growth. The silage was cut 2 weeks later than normal in June. Fertiliser was 2 weeks later going out due to the poor weather in April. 110 acres of silage was pitted in excellent conditions in June.

 Picture 1: Haymaking, surplus grass in Rathfeston conserved as hay. 

Like most farms, docks are a problem. In June , John hired in a contractor to spray 30 acres. Reaper was the herbicide that John selected –a broad spectrum weed control that is also effective against nettles.


John is very happy with the 2023 crop of calves . 130 calves were bought with only 2 losses to date. John focussed on sourcing calves locally , direct off –farm this year. The calves were also fully vaccinated . Both changes have really reduced animal health issues this year.

In June 112 calves have been weaned and these are on good quality grass plus 1.5kgs of meal/head/day. The meal will be reduced later on in the summer. The remaining 16 calves are lighter and younger so john decided to keep them on once a day milk for another couple of weeks. They are also getting highly, palatable concentrate . The concentrate fed is a mix of barley/oats/soya/molasses and minerals.

Picture 2: The importance of shade during hot weather


To improve the genetic merit of the suckler herd, John is aiming to increase the use of AI. This year 45 cows along with 35 heifers were selected for   fixed time AI using a synchronisation programme. Using such a programme saves a lot of time on labour as all will be done in 10 days.

The cows programme;

  • Day 0 ; CIDRS Inserted
  • Day 7 ; @ 6pm CIDR out and 2ml estrumate
  • Day 10 ; @6pm AI plus 2ml Receptal

Heifer Programme

  • Day 0; CiDRS inserted
  • Day 5 ; @ 6pm 2ml of Estrumate
  • Day 6 ; 6pm CIDR out plus 2ml of estrumate
  • Day 8; @ 6pm AI plus 2ml of Receptal

The bulls chosen were mainly ;  SI7350; SI4147; LM2014; LM5443 and some terminal sires eg CH4159.

John used high value maternal bulls in order to get some replacements rather than having to buy in  maiden heifers on a yearly basis.

An angus bull is used for mopping up the replacements heifers. Scanning will take place in mid July.

John had issues with some empty cows and got his CH bull fertility tested in advance of the breeding season. The test confirmed that the bull was sub-fertile and was immediately culled. Another terminal CH bull was purchased and he is running with the mature cows . The new bull is a 5 star terminal bull at €153 . His carcase index is +35.9kgs . John intends to call a halt to the breeding season on July 15th.