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Ruairi Cummins May Update

Planning for under 16 month bull system

Planning for under 16 month bull system

  • For ease of management all male calves born after a certain date could be castrated so that finishing bulls will have tight age range
  • Draft bulls for slaughter as they become fit
  • Weigh finishing cattle monthly to check that they are all on target
Measure grass weekly

Measure grass weekly

  • This will help to decide if paddocks should be cut for silage/hay
  • Cut silage in mid to late May for optimum quality
  • Monitor days of grass ahead, the target is 12 -14 days this month. Corrective action is required if <10 days or >16 days ahead
Consider nutrient management plan recommendations

Consider nutrient management plan recommendations

  • Spread lime after first/second cut silage where needed
  • Analyse slurry and spread best quality on fields with the highest demand (e.g. 2 cut silage/low P and K indexes)
  • Choose paddocks that may be suitable for oversowing clover and consider if it is an option on your farm this year


Out of 20 bulls born on the farm this spring, 9 that were born since 1st March were castrated with lamb rings. This will ensure that all bulls to be finished under 16 months of age will be uniform in age and size, which will leave them easier to manage and they can be slaughtered over a shorter time period.

On 21st April the first 5 U16 month bulls were drafted for slaughter. They were 15 months of age on average and came into 398 kg carcass weight (range of 371-456kg). The average grade was R+3= and they made an average price of €2043. They were paid €4.80 base price + 20c ABP bonus.

The remaining 8 bulls averaged 629kg (range of 585 – 664kg) on 2nd May, having gained 1.79 kg since their previous weighing on 1st April. They are currently eating 9kg of ration/head per day.


Ruairi started his second rotation on 20th April. As he is lower stocked this year than other years, the slower grass growth this spring has not caused him much concern.

On 2nd May the out farm had a farm cover of 448 kg DM/ha, with a growth rate of 37 kg DM/ha since the previous cover on 18th April. The demand was 39 kg DM/ha and there were 11 days of grass ahead.  Ruairi had 2 paddocks closed for hay before this grass walk and has now taken out another 2 paddocks to cut hay. There has been around 24 units/acre spread on this farm on average to date, including 18-6-12 to help maintain the soil indexes. Based on the growth rate and days ahead on the farm, another 20 units/acre of nitrogen could be spread on the farm, either in the form of 18-6-12 or protected urea as recommended in the farm’s nutrient management plan.

The home block was measured on 3rd May and had a farm cover of 555 kg DM/ha, with a growth rate of 40 kg DM/ha since the previous cover on 18th April. The demand was 34 kg DM/ha and there were 16 days of grass ahead. Another 20 units of nitrogen, in the form of protected urea would help grass growth here too.

Ruairi plans to cut silage on the farm in the next 2 weeks, before the last week in May.

Soil Fertility

Lime will be spread on the farm during the summer after silage has been cut.

The hay fields on the out farm were spread with 1.5 bags of pasture sward/acre and are closed about 2 weeks.

Slurry samples were taken on Ruairi’s farm and the results are as follows:

SampleDry matter


(units/1000 gallons)


(units/1000 gallons)


(units/1000 gallons)

1 - Bull's slatted tank 7.96% 11.64 7.6 33.99
2 - Cow's tank 7.93% 5.6 4.42 26.25

 From this information it’s clear that the slurry from the bull’s tank is the highest quality and should be used to replace nutrient offtakes from silage on the lowest index fields.

There are 6 paddocks on the farm that have good soil fertility (pH over 6.2 and index 3 or higher for P and K) and are suitable for oversowing clover. However as the farm is lower stocked than usual this year, it will be a better investment for Ruairi to focus on building the soil fertility and when the stocking rate is higher next year it will be easier to graze the clover at the correct height to help establishment.