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Proinnsias Creedon January/February Update 2024

Winter health

Winter health

  • FEC samples positive for liver fluke
  • Cattle have been treated – care taken with withdrawal periods for finishing cattle
  • Ventilation requirements for new shed
Finishing cattle feeding regimes

Finishing cattle feeding regimes

  • Finishing cattle are eating 5.2kg ration per head per day
  • Store cattle are on a high protein diet, although soya bean meal can be pulled
  • 2023 heifers are on a 17% crude protein ration, along with good quality silage
Finishing performance

Finishing performance

  • Finishing performance of 2022 heifers
  • Age at slaughter reduced by 1.3 months in 2023 vs 2022!

Animal Health

From weighing the cattle before Christmas, Proinnsias was aware that the cattle were not performing as well as expected. He took a FEC sample on 20th December from the store cattle and while they were clear for gastro intestinal worms, lungworms and rumen fluke, they were positive for liver fluke. Although Proinnsias’s farm is heavy in nature, liver fluke is not typically an issue on the farm so it came as a surprise. Some of the heifers were close to finishing so an albenadazole drench was used which had a 14 day withdrawal period. The rest of the store cattle and weanlings were given a nitroxinil injection which had a 60 day withdrawal period.

FEC sample results

Figure 1: FEC sample results

Ventilation calculations were completed for the new shed. Measurements are taken from the shed length and width, and the number of cattle and their average live weight must also be taken into account. The calculation show that an outlet of 2.28m2 is required for the 59 heifers housed in the shed, however only 2.67m2 is available through an opening at the top of the shed. Options to improve this would include raised sheeting, space sheeting, making a wider gap at the top of the shed or making an opening at the eaves of the shed. Raised sheeting and space sheeting aren’t suitable options as the farm yard is quite high and is subject to strong winds. The calculations showed that there is more than enough of an air inlet at 89.63m2 (opening above feed barrier and vented sheeting along the side of the shed) versus the 4.56m2 required.

Sheds which are housing cattle

Figure 2: Cattle sheds on the farm

Animal Nutrition

The 2022 heifers are penned according to live weight and are being fed between 2.6kg to 5.2kg of ration. The lightest store cattle are eating 2kg of a 17% crude protein ration, along with 0.6kg of soya bean meal which is above their protein requirements so they will be coming off the soya bean meal when it is finished. They are being fed 72 to 73% DMD silage also.

The heaviest heifers from the 2023 group are eating 1.84 kg/day of a 17% crude protein ration. The smaller ones are eating 1.8-2kg of the same ration, along with good quality silage. Proinnsias previously would have fed the cattle bales to last them up to 5 days, but now they are given fresh bales of silage every 1-2 days.

Pen of heifers on the farm

Figure 3: Pen of the heaviest 2023 born calves


Eleven finishing heifers were weighed on 2nd January and they averaged 523kg.

Eight of these heifers were finished on 3rd January. They were 22.4 months on average and had a carcass weight of 253kg, graded O=3+ and made €1395/head on average.

Proinnsias was reflecting on the finishing performance over the last 2 years. In 2022 61 heifers were finished at an average of 26.6 months of age. They averaged 289 kg carcass weight, graded O+ and made €1482/head. In 2023 52 heifers were finished at an average of 25.3 months of age. They had an average carcass weight of 272kg, graded O= and made €1446/head.

Overall the age at slaughter has reduced by 1.3 months in the year, carcass weight has reduced by 17kg, but the value per head has only decreased by €38. The reduction in feeding time has resulted in savings of €137 in feed costs alone, assuming a live weight of 523kg, feeding 5kg ration at €354/t and 5.5kg silage at €232/t DM. It has also helped to reduce methane emissions from stock on the farm as they are sent to the factory earlier.

Pen of finishing heifers

Figure 4: Next pen of heifers to be finished