Kay O'Sullivan May/June Update 2023
Breeding plans 2023
- Breeding will start on 12th June and continue to the end of August
- All 2022 born heifers will be bred
- AI bull selection for 2023
- Red clover/grass mix has been sown
- Multi species mix was sown
- White clover oversown on a new grass reseed
Grass growth exceeding demand on the farm
- Grass growth is higher than demand on the farm
- Pre-grazing yields are less than 1400 kg DM/ha
- Surplus paddocks are expected to be cut for silage over the coming weeks
The herd went clear in the latest TB test, which was a huge relief to Kay.
Two cows are left to calve and are due in early June.
19 cows and 11 heifers are available for breeding this year. The breeding season will start on 12th June and finish at the end of August (10.5 week breeding season).
Kay is in an excellent position as she has 11 heifers that were born in 2022 that are all suitable for breeding. They range from a replacement index value of €117 to €163, are all genotyped, have a positive figure for daughter milk and a negative figure for daughter calving interval. They are all at their target weights for breeding and are docile. As they are fully organic cattle, there is an opportunity for Kay to sell some of these in calf later in the year to new entrant organic farmers. If they do not go in calf, she can also choose to finish them on the farm with the bullocks.
She has selected an easy calving Angus bull to breed the heifers to. His AI code is AA6331 and he has a beef heifer calving difficulty of 3.7% at 71% reliability. His daughter milk figure is +9kg and the daughter calving interval is -5.8 days. He has a carcass weight figure of 17kg and a carcass conformation of 0.93. Most importantly he has a replacement index of €159 and is 5 stars for maternal traits, so his daughters will be suitable replacements. He is also not related to any of the heifers.
The AI bulls being used on the cows are ESH, KYA, AA5310, AA4633, AA4632 and AA8640. These bulls have been selected mainly for their maternal traits, but AA8640 and AA6331 have good figures for carcass weight as well.
Kay’s cows have a replacement index value of €105, with -2kg carcass weight, -6.38 days daughter calving interval, 5.4kg daughter milk and 0.02 docility. She plans to increase the Eurostar value of the herd by €5/year and as such chose bulls with a minimum replacement index of €120. The carcass weight figure for the herd is low so she aims to use bulls with a positive figure for carcass weight. Any bulls with a negative carcass weight figure are used on the biggest cows.
Figure 1: The Eurostar details of Kay’s cows
Figure 2: Cows and calves on the farm
A red clover/ryegrass mix was sown on 4th May in the paddock beside Kay’s yard. She plans to use this for a 3 cut silage system over the coming years. It was sown after a crop of redstart and it also received 2t/acre of lime at the time of sowing. The mix contained 3kg Aberclyde, 3kg Nashota, 1.5kg Aberwolf, 4kg Rozeta red clover, 0.25kg Dublin white clover and 0.25kg Lightning Persian clover.
Figure 3: Red clover and perennial ryegrass seedlings starting to appear
Two grass paddocks were sown with a multi species mix between the 28th April and 4th May. They were both spread with 2t lime/acre. One field was poached and Kay decided to plough it before sowing the seed with a one-pass and then rolling it afterwards. The mix contained 3kg Aberplentiful PRG, 2.1kg Nashota PRG, 1.5kg Callan PRG, 1kg Aberswan white clover, 0.5kg Iona white clover, 1.5kg Rozeta red clover, 1kg Plantain, 0.7kg Chicory and 0.7kg Timothy.
Figure 4: Rolled fields after the multi species mix was sown
Another grass paddock was reseeded on 9th May with a grass mix which was over sown with organic white clover and bird’s foot trefoil. A small spinner is fixed onto the back of the gator which can be set to allow for a low sowing rate of 2-3kg/acre and Kay uses this to broadcast the seed when over sowing.
Figure 5: Spreader used to broadcast clover seed fixed on the back of the gator
Kay plans to cut silage the week of 22nd May, if weather conditions allow.
Kay measured grass on the farm on 19th May. There was a growth rate of 20 kg DM/ha/day since 5th May, and the demand on the farm is 34 kg DM/ha/day. The farm cover was 1033 kg DM/ha which is quite high for the time of year, but pre-grazing yields are less than 1400 kg DM/ha to ensure the best quality grass is available to the ewes and lambs, cows and calves and yearling cattle.
There are 30 days of grass ahead on the farm, which is higher than the target of 12-14 days so Kay is expecting that surplus paddocks will have to be taken out over the coming weeks, and plans to cut them with her main first cut of silage.
Figure 6: Grass wedge for 19th May 2023