Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Ken Gill September/October Update 2023

Calving almost finished & breeding season to start at end of October

Calving almost finished & breeding season to start at end of October

  • Calving update
  • Breeding will start on 30th October
  • AI bull selection for 2023
Slaughter performance of 2021 born cattle

Slaughter performance of 2021 born cattle

  • 2021 born cattle slaughtered off grass
  • Average carcass weight of 328kg for heifers and 361kg for bullocks
  • Heifers graded R+3- and bullocks graded R=3- on average
Making life easier & safer!

Making life easier & safer!

  • New calf crate purchased this year
  • Ken is using it for tagging, castrating and disbudding calves
  • Safe and easy to use


While one heifer calved unexpectedly on 26th June his year, the main calving season started on 8th August. 64 calves were born in total, with 6 mortalities which has resulted in 58 live calves to date. Two of these were a set of twins, 1 died at birth and 1 premature calf passed away 5 days after birth. A further 2 died from difficult calvings at birth – these were sired by the uncastrated bull on the farm and were caesarean sections. The cow that was scanned in calf with triplets has since turned up empty.

There are ten heifers left to calve that are also in calf to the uncastrated bull. Calving is due to be finished by 3rd December.

Newborn calves at grass with their cows

Figure 1: Calved cows with their calves at grass

Breeding will start on 30th October this year. Ken plans to stick with a 6 week breeding season and aims to have 70 cows calving next autumn. Due to a high replacement rate of 30%, he will have to breed 42 cows to maternal bulls, in the hope of having 21 potential replacement heifers born. Due to the extra in calf heifers this year, Ken has 102 potential replacements to breed from. However some of these have been selected for culls due to being very thin, having big udders, losing a calf or difficult calvings (particularly from the unexpected in calf heifers). He culled hard last year for mastitis and temperament and so far has not chosen any culls for either reason.

He has selected two Angus bulls, AA4640 (HW Farghal T516) and AA4303 for breeding with his heifers. These have replacement indexes of €119 and €170 respectively, a beef heifer calving difficulty of 6% or less with over 96% reliability, daughter milk of 10.5kg and 8.7kg respectively and a carcass weight figure of over 14kg to increase the herd average which is 10kg. The aim is that the heifers will be potential replacements, but the bulls will still have good terminal traits for finishing.

Eurostar values for Ken's cows

Figure 2: Eurostar value of the herd (Sept 2023)

The replacement bulls selected are AU4683, LM4351, SI4083, CH4202, LM4302 and SA2189. The replacement indexes range from €155 to €209, beef cow calving difficulty is less than 6% at over 97% reliability, the daughter milk figure ranges from 3.2kg to 9.1kg and the daughter calving interval is -0.72 days to -7.76 days. The carcass weight figure is 18.8kg to 40.2kg and carcass conformation is 1.05 to 2.29 for the bulls selected, which have been chosen to further improve the breeding potential of the herd.

The cows selected for breeding to more terminal bulls have a Eurostar value of less than €124. The bulls chosen are AA4087, BJG and AA4303. They have a terminal index of €86 to €105, a carcass weight figure of 14kg to 25.1kg, carcass conformation of 0.93 to 1.12 and are less than 4.6% calving difficulty for beef cows at over 96% reliability.


The 2021 born cattle have all been slaughtered off grass this autumn. The first load went to the factory on 1st September and the final load went on 5th October. Two heifers were slaughtered and they had an average carcass weight of 293kg and graded R+3- at 24.3 months of age. 18 bullocks were slaughtered and they had an average carcass weight of 366kg, grading R=3= at 24.5 months of age. They averaged €1976/head.

Four heifers were slaughtered on 5th October and had an average carcass weight of 346kg, grading R+3- at 25.5 months of age. 18 bullocks were also killed on the same day with an average carcass weight of 356kg, grading R=3- at 25.4 months of age. They averaged €1912/head.

Health & Safety

Ken is using a calf crate to disbud and castrate the calves at less than one week of age. He is finding it safe and quick to use. A derogation was sought from his organic certifying body to approve these measures in advance. Over half of the cows will be bred to polled bulls this autumn to help avoid the need for disbudding next year.

Calf crate

Figure 3: The calf crate Ken invested in