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Trevor Boland January/February 2023



  • Monitoring liveweight ! 2022 autumn born calves are weighed on a regular basis
  • 30 cattle purchased for grass


  • Slurry applied to low covers of grass
  • Taking advantage of a dry February- Autumn born calves let out to grass
  • Spring grazing plan – using the spring rotation planner for a guide


  • 2022 profit monitor results
  • Target output per LU of >350kg/LU for suckling system
  • What are your variable  costs at as percentage of your gross output? Target <50%


To monitor livestock performance, Trevor weighs on a regular basis . The autumn born calves have been weighed 3 to 4 times during the months of January and February.

The males calves are averaging 251kgs giving a ADG of 1.04kgs. The calves have access to grass by day while the cows stay indoors in the slatted shed. To push performance the heavy calves will be weaned and the calves let out to grass full-time in March . They will also get 1 kgs of meal/day.

The heifers are averaging 228kgs giving an average daily gain of 0.91kgs/day since birth. Similar to the heavier bulls , the older heifers will be weaned and let out to grass full-time. The weaning process will be stress-free as the calves are well used of grazing away from their mothers for the last number of weeks and the bond is already reduced.

These weanlings are ideal stock for early grazing -they are not too heavy and weather permitting ,Trevor intends to keep them out full-time from now on.

To increase the output from the farm , Trevor purchased 30 FR X HE yearlings. The average weight was 312kgs on arrival. They were immediately put to grass and Trevor hopes to get cheap weight gain of over 200kgs on these of the course of the grazing season.


The dry weather in February offered the opportunity to get some slurry out to paddocks with low covers of grass. The remainder of the slurry will be kept for the silage ground in March. Slurry is a valuable resource for supplying P and K to grow the silage crop. 3000 gallons of slurry applied per acre will supply sufficent P and K to grow a crop of silage.

During the month of February , 34 autumn calves have been out grazing by day. Trevor uses the Spring Rotation planner to keep his spring grazing on track. This is a simple tool to plan out the first grazing rotation to ensure that grass is grazed early enough to allow time for re-growth for the second rotation and to ensure grass does not run out before the second rotation starts.

It is purely based on target areas and dates. Once you know the date you are letting out stock and the targets, you know how much land you have to graze per day, week and month. The following targets are for a dry farm such as Trevor’s.

  • 30% of your farm grazed by the 1st March
  • 60% of your farm grazed by Mid- March
  • 100% of your farm grazed by the first week of April

The planner below tells Trevor the amount of ground they need to graze per week in order to meet those targets. The first areas to be grazed will be grazing ground before moving onto the silage ground . This gives the first grazing areas at least 70 days to recover before being grazed again at the start of April ie start of the second rotation.

February 2023 has been exceptional in terms of dry weather and great ground conditions but Trevor is aware that it is still early in the year and should the weather change in early March , stock maybe need to be re-housed.


As an accountant, Trevor looks forward to completing a profit monitor for the farm on a yearly basis. The profit monitor allows him to analyse the farm’s financial performance, compare with previous years, and to  benchmark against suckler farmers in the Future Beef group . The profit highlights what is going well on the farm but also demonstrates the areas for improvement. Three main areas to analyse are;

1.Output per livestock unit (LU) – The kilograms of beef produced for each LU on the farm. Every management practice on the farm affects this; health, mortality, performance at grass and housing, genetics, and in a suckling system the cow & bull fertility and calving spread. The figure for the farm is very good at 334kg/LU. The target for  a suckling system this is >350kg/LU.

 2. Stocking rate – The number of livestock units per hectare on the farm. The stocking rate is high, at 161kgs of organic N/ha. A higher stocking rate generally equates to a higher profit, but it is more important that each animal is performing well on the farm beforehand. The farm stocking rate will depend on the grass growth, land quality, labour availability and Nitrates Directive regulations.

3.Variable costs as a % of gross output – The target is Target 50% to ensure there is enough money in the pot left to pay the fixed costs and leave a positive net margin. Trevors variable costs in 2022 is 60% of output. This is to be expected given the sharp increase in fertiliser and contractor prices in 2022. Trevor’s meal bill is low at €147/ha which is a positive result.

The main focus for the farm over the next 3-4 years is to increase the output/LU by improving the calving interval, reducing the calving spread and pushing liveweight perforamce off grass.  There will also be a focus on calving heifers at 24-26 months of age.