Wesley Browne January/February 2023 update
- Calving progressing well- 60 cows calved in the first 3 weeks
- Finishing bull management
- Taking advantage of a dry February ; 45 Cows and calves turned out to grass
- Protected Urea goes out
- Using the spring rotation planner to stay on target for the 1st rotation
- 2022 – A great year for the farm!
Calving started on the 15th of February and in the space of 3 weeks , 60 cows have calved. The remaining 35 will calve in March. Other than been extremely busy, Wesley is happy how with how the calving has gone to date . The vet had to perform a section on 1 cow , where a big calve was coming backwards but it was the right decision and all ended well. 2 calves were born dead and those cows have been earmarked for culling immediately. 2 other calves had “lazy tongue” ie reluctant to suck the cow so Wesley had to bottle feed for 3 to 4 days which added to the workload pressure.
With a dry February , cows and calves have gone straight to grass and this has freed up a lot of space in the calving pens for the remainder to calve.
The bulls were weighed on Jan 7th and their average weight was 384kgs . This gives an average daily gain of 1.15kgs since birth. The bulls are currently on 7kgs of finishing bull ration mixed with top quality silage. 1 bale of silage is used every 2 days . Wesley intends to weigh the bulls again in early March to monitor performance.Intake of fresh clean water are very important so the water troughs are checked. The meal will be increased to 7.5kgs in March.
With an AFC of over 930kgs, there is plenty of grass on the farm. Given the dry February , 45 cows and calves were let out during the month as they calved. Graze outs as can be seen from the picture have been excellent.
The cows have been divided into small groups for the first 2 to 3 weeks after turnout. In the event of wet weather they will be easier to manage in small groups. Wesley hopes that he does not have to re-house. In order to stay on target when grazing , the spring rotation planner is a simple tool to plan out the first grazing rotation. It ensures 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 but a week can be added to these dates for a heavier farm
- 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 Wesley 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.
As there will be a big demand for grass at the end of March Wesley applied 18kgs of Protected Nitrogen/acre in mid February.
Wesley completed his 2022 profit monitor in Janruary to analyse the farm’s financial performance, which allows him to compare with previous years, and to benchmark against suckler farmers in the Future Beef group .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 figure is 419kg/LU which is excellent . This was up from 385kg/LU in 2021. The bull system generates higher kgs/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 is 2.18 LU/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. Wesley’s breeding performance is excellent which is the first step in increasing the kgs/LU.
3.Variable costs as a % of gross output – Target is 50% of gross output to ensure there is enough money in the pot left to pay the fixed costs and leave a positive net margin. Wesley’s figure is 51% despite having a u16 month old bull system .