Ken Gill February Update
Monitor grass growth when letting out stock to graze
- Measure grass
- Watch growth rates
- Spread slurry on fields when and where you will get the most response
- Plan for selling cull cows
- Feed until fat where possible
- Good Herdsmen will now be taking organic cows
Complete 2021 profit monitor
- Assess financial performance for 2021
- Identify areas to reduce costs
- Consider ways to reduce labour as part of this
Ken measured grass on his farm on 24th January and had a farm cover of 325 kg DM/ha. He measured it again this week and had a farm cover of 448 kg DM/ha, with a growth rate of 9 kg DM/ha/day. As his autumn calves are grazing by day, and their intake would be increasing, it is good to see that the farm cover is continuing to rise. This will help with turning out the yearling heifers in the next 2 to 3 weeks to reduce the demand for silage.
He hopes to spread slurry using the trailing shoe in early March. Soil temperatures should be up to give a better growth response by then. Drier fields that have a high perennial ryegrass content should be prioritised.
Ten cull cows were slaughtered on 26th January as non-organic cows. On average they graded O=3-, had a carcass weight of 312 kg and made an average price of €1164 (range €766 – 1700). These would normally be fed on until May but as Ken is tight on feed he had to sell them on. Good Herdsmen are now taking organic cows so it will be a good selling option for him in the future.
Ken completed his profit monitor for 2021. For an organic system, his grassland stocking rate is quite high at 1.69 LU/ha. As this is raising a challenge for producing sufficient feed for the winter this will be monitored going forward.
As Ken produces good quality silage every year, his purchased and home grown concentrate bill is quite low (€96/ha). Ken’s two biggest costs are the contractor and straw bedding. However as there are labour saving benefits to outsourcing work to a contractor, and the straw bedding is required for both his organic system and as a nutrient source for the tillage land, it will be difficult to reduce these.
Ken is achieving a gross margin of over €1000/ha from his beef enterprise. His fixed costs are quite low also which is leaving a healthy net profit for the farm.
One area that Ken can focus on in the coming years is to breed his cows back to more terminal AI bulls as there will be a grading system in place for organic stock. This should help increase his carcass weights, the feed conversion efficiency of stock, their carcass value, and may also help to reduce the age at slaughter. Ken could also examine labour-saving ideas on his farm, to reduce the number of hours worked on the farm per week and increase his farm wage per hour.