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Kay O'Sullivan May/June Update 2024

Latest update

Latest update

  • Calving is now finished
  • ICBF calving performance report
  • Breeding will start on 1st June
Grass growth & reseeding

Grass growth & reseeding

  • Grass growth is at 47 kg DM/ha/day
  • This has exceeded demand on the farm so surplus paddocks can be cut for silage
  • Multi species mix sown on the farm
Silage yields

Silage yields

  • Red clover silage harvested on 9th May
  • Yield of 8.2 bales/acre
  • Cattle slurry spread to replace nutrient offtakes


Calving finished on Kay’s farm on 17th May. The calving season started on 19th March and lasted 8 weeks and 3 days in total. 24 out of 25 cows calved in total, including 5 heifers that calved at 24 months of age. The cow that did not calf is almost 17 years of age and Kay no longer breeds her due to her age.

The calving interval was 356 days for the herd, which is well ahead of the target 365 days. Mortality was higher than expected this year, with 4.2% at birth and 8.3% by 28 days. This was due to 2 cows lying on their calves while in the shed during the bad weather. This has resulted in 22 live calves and the calves per cow per year is at 0.9. 92% of the herd calved in the first 6 weeks. No cows were recycled and 100% of the calves were born from AI sires.

ICBF calving performance reportFigure 1: Breeding KPI’s from Kay’s ICBF beef calving report for 2024

Following on from this, Kay will start breeding again on 1st June and has the bulls picked as per her previous update.

Cows and calvesFigure 2: Breeding will start on 1st June


Kay is measuring grass weekly on her farm and was delighted with a growth rate of 47 kg DM/ha between 16th and 22nd May. This is ahead of the demand at 38 kg DM/ha and with a farm cover of 1402 kg DM/ha and 37 days of grass ahead she fully expects to be taking out surplus paddocks for silage.

There are currently 4 grazing groups on the farm which is simplifying management:

  • Cows and calves
  • Yearlings
  • Ewes & lambs with some cattle
  • Hoggets

Grass wedgeFigure 3: Grass wedge 22nd May 2024

Fifteen acres of multi species was sown on 25th April, including where the field where the redstart crop was for 2023/2024. The mix contains red clover, white clover, plantain, chicory, perennial ryegrass and timothy grass.

The ‘Black Field’ has been selected for sowing the redstart this year. It has received 2,500 gallons/acre of cattle slurry to help build the P indexes. Kay decided to do this as the redstart sown in 2023 began to show signs of P deficiency shortly after sowing. Part of the field will be left in grass to provide a lie back area and Kay hopes to sow it in the first week in July.


The red clover silage was harvested on 6th May and yielded 40 bales in total (average 8.2 bales/acre). Cattle slurry was spread on it using the dribble bar after cutting at a rate of 2,000 gallons/acre. It is recovering well after cutting and Kay expects to cut it again before the end of June.Red clover regrowthFigure 4: 2 week re-growths on the red clover field

Some multi species swards were oversown with a medium leaf white clover seed (Nemunia) at a rate of 2kg/acre using the Gator and mini spreader as this paddock was bare after sheep and lambs grazed it down.