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John Pringle November/December 2023



  • Target of 500kgs a one year old
  • Target average daily gain > 1.3kgs/hd/day from housing to a year of age
  • Nutrition/Health/environment are all key
Health & Safety

Health & Safety

  • Bedding bulls can be dangerous
  • Always think ahead – how can I be safer
  • Always carry your mobile phone


  • 31st March deadline to plant hedges and sow trees
  • Plants must be of Irish Origin or Irish Provenance
  • Know the specifications


John has the bulls housed since early October.

Health: On entry to the shed they were given an ivomec injection to clear out any stomach or lung worms and to control lice, fluke is not an issue on the farm. Unfortunately a faecal egg sample test taken last week (mid Nov) showed a presence of lungworm, so John is going to retest and if positive will have to go in with a levacide to clear out an infection.

Table 1: Faecal egg sample results 

They are fully vaccinated against RSV, Pi3, Mannheimia haemolytica using Bovipast. This is a two shout programme and the second injection was given 2 weeks before housing along with and IBR live vaccine into the muscle.

John has had issues with respiratory diseases on the farm and thus covers all the bases.

Nutrition: The bulls are on 3kgs of a 16% protein weanling crunch per day and ad lib 75 DMD silage, which is 34.4% dry matter and 14.23% crude protein. This is giving an overall diet of 15% protein. The target is they should be achieving 1.3kgs per head per day, when they were housed they were on average 305 Kgs, by the 9th of March, they should be 500Kgs. The weighing mid-December will tell us if we are on track. There dung is solid, they are eating plenty and they are very settled, so indications are good, however it is always the weighing scales that tells us if we are on target.

 Table 2: Silage sample results for John Pringle 

Environment: The bulls are divided into two groups, as per their weight. They are in a shed on their own so they are comfortable and there are no bulling heifers to bother them. They are on straw bedding. Their space allowance may have been tighter last year, but this year John has cleared out some machinery and given the other half of the shed to the bulls so thy will have at least 2.8m2 per animal as they finish. They can all feed at the same time, they have plenty of water bowls with clean fresh water which are checked daily.

Picture 1: Under 16 month bulls 2023

Picture 2: Under 16 month bulls 2023


Health & Safety

John is lucky he has his father farming with him, but for many they farm alone and if they were injured there would be no one to feed/bed cattle etc. The availability, not to mind the cost of getting in someone for a period would be prohibitive on many farms. Therefore for all it is imperative that you always think safety first.

John has 23 bulls that will be almost 700kgs by the time they are finished. The need to be bedded twice a week and the passage scraped into the tank. John is lucky, he has invested in a straw chopper to bed his cattle and bed and feed out silage to his 250+ ewes.

Along with this, he has devised a clever yet simple and inexpensive system to put a barrier between him and his bulls. He has retractable electric fence fixed to one wall. He runs the fence along the pen, first thing in the morning when the cattle are lying down and connects it to the other end. This allows him to open the gates, scrape the passage and bed them safely.

Picture (3 -5) : Simple electric wire fence to keep cattle back in the shed



John has a keen interest in the environment and biodiversity, so when acre came along it was a no brainer for John. With the tree and hedge options, they fed nicely into the objectives of the Future Beef Programme – improve biodiversity and reduce Green House gases. Trees and hedgerow will sequester carbon for decades to come

December January is the time to sit down and look at what were the options chosen in your acres plan. This work can be completed over the winter months before the calving and lambing starts next spring. The deadlines are;


  • By March 31st, 2024: plant hedges, trees and traditional orchards
  • Plants must be of Irish Origin or Irish Provenance and purchased from DAFM registered professional operators. 6.
  • All trees purchased for this action must have an accompanying plant passport and participants must ensure that they retain the plant passport(s) for the duration of the contract. 7.
  • Purchased trees must be a minimum of 60cm in height
  • By May 15th, 2023 - in grass fields – fence grass margins, and riparian strips and zones
  • By August 31st, 2023 - in tillage fields – fence grass margins, and riparian strips and zones


Hedges: For John this mean 633m of hedgerow to be planted. The specification is that at least 5 plants be sown per meter, in a double staggered row. Ideally there should be a mix of plants in the hedgerow. The permitted plants are

  • Blackthorn (Prunus spinose)
  • Dog Rose (Rosa canina)
  • Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus)
  • Hawthorn/Whitethorn (Crataegus monogyna)
  • Hazel (Corylus avellana)
  • Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
  • Spindle (Euonymous europaeus)
  • Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus

John has already ordered his plants and will be sowing whitethorn, Dog rose, hazel and Spinlde. The hedge must then be fence off from livestock – for John this means sheep wire fencing.


Trees – John has 80 native trees to plant. There are many rules to follow when buying them, the main ones being


See page 100 of the specifications for more details on link https://assets.gov.ie/231749/39dd9ce0-fb95-4619-bd8e-8ff53b752d08.pdf


List of Trees  
Alder Sessile Oak
Strawberry tree Pedunculate Oak
Silver Birch Goat Willow
Downy Birch Grey Willow
Hazel Bay Willow
Holly English Whitebeam
Crab Apple Rowan
Scots Pine Irish Whitebeam
Black Popar Rock Whitebeam
Wild Cherry  
Bird Cherry