John farms with his wife Linda, daughter Lucy and sons William and Scott. He works full-time on the farm in Kilacloran, Aughrim, Co. Wicklow.
John is farming 58.42 ha in one block. The soil type is part of the Clonroche series which is made up of a shallow layer of topsoil over shale. On the highest part of the farm a vein of rock is located just under the surface. Overall it is a dry farm as the soils are free draining which allows John to get stock out to grass in spring relatively early. The layout of the farm is long and narrow and rises from approximately 330 ft to 640 ft above sea level at the highest point.
John is stocked at 130 kgs N/Ha. John runs a suckler calf-to-beef system consisting of 45 spring calving suckler cows. The males are finished as under 16 months bull beef, while the heifers, not retained for breeding, are finished at 23-24 months. Simmental is the dominant breed on his farm with most of the sucklers being bred by Simmental sires. John keeps two stock bulls. A high replacemnt index Simmental bull with good carcass traits is on farm to breed replacements and in recent years an easy calving Shorthorn stock bull.
He also has a mid-season ewe lambing flock of 225. The farm is well paddocked with approximately 30 grazing divisions. Depending on grass growth and demand John can also sub-divide some of the larger paddocks with temporary fencing if required. During the year there are three main grazing groups, 2 groups of cows & calves grazed with ewes and lambs and 1 group of fattening heifers grazed with replacement hoggets.
Teagasc Advisor is Peter Lawrence.
No. of cows: 45
Cow replacement index: 120
Heifer replacement index: 111
Calves per cow per year: 0.98
The main objective on his farm is to stay at the same cow and ewe numbers but to increase the efficiency on farm whereby increasing the output of meat sold at lower production costs. Consequently, animal breeding, maximising weight gain from grazed grass, coupled with improving soil health and fertility are the main focus areas. John also wants to reduce chemical usage on the farm and focus more on clover and organic manures to grow the required tonnes of grass for his stocking rate.