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Michael & Niall Biggins

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November/December 2022 | September/October 2022 update|July/August 2022 update June 2022 update | May 2022 update 

Michael and Niall Biggins.Michael and his wife Bridie work in partnership with their son Niall on the farm in Ballynalty, Headford, Co. Mayo. Michael works full-time on the farm.  He combines the farming work with his role as IFA Rural Development Chair. 

Michael & Niall are farming 45Ha of owned land in 3 separate land blocks within a 2km distance of the home block. The area is mostly limestone and the farm has predominately dry mineral soils with a significant area of peaty heavier soils. One block of land has very shallow soil with the rock near the surface. This area suffers in very dry summers, but the peaty heavy soil area benefits in dry summers. 

The farm is stocked at 145kgs NPH. Michael & Niall run a suckling to weanling/yearling system consisting of 65 mainly spring calving suckler cows. They used to have a split autumn and spring calving system but are now moving to an all spring calving system. The best calves are sold as weanlings in the autumn. The remaining bulls and heifers are sold as yearlings.

The farm is fairly well paddocked with up to 30 main divisions on the farm with scope to split fields further with temporary fencing. Having plenty of well placed water troughs is key to allowing paddocks to be split on the farm. Two of the land blocks have farm roadways running through the land to allow ease of movement of both cattle and machinery. Niall and Michael are currently getting set-up on PastureBase to get started on grass measuring.

There are 3 slatted sheds on the farm with ample slurry storage and space for cattle kept over the winter period. There is also a large loose shed which is set-up with calving pens in the calving season.

The farm has been in an Agri-Environmental scheme since REPS 1. Their farm is currently in the GLAS scheme. As part of GLAS all watercourses are fenced off, stonewalls are maintained, an area of wild bird cover is sown and an area of low input pasture is farmed.  

His Teagasc Advisor is Alan Nolan.

Breeding Performance

No. of cows: 84
Cow replacement index: 113
Heifer replacement index: 135
Calves per cow per year: 1.0

Michael & Niall's Plan

Their plan is to stay at the same cow numbers and try to maintain current calves per cow per year figure. The breeding focus will be on calf quality to consistently breed groups of calves that will achieve a high average price as weanlings or yearlings. Performance at grass will be a key focus area. Soil fertility will be carefully analysed in year 1 to see where improvements can be made. Using more protected urea and incorporating more clover on the farm is planned.