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Wesley Browne May/June 2023 Update



  • The bull system – how it works on Wesley’s Farm
  • Current bull performance
  • Drafting begins for slaughtering


  • Grass and ground conditions- an improving scenario
  • Spraying for docks



  • Finished with calving – now its all about breeding!




Stage 1: The Bull System

Like any profitable, suckler beef production system the first step is to ‘build the herd’ and over the last number of years , Wesley has focussed on building herd of functional cows that will tick the following boxes with good management;

  • Consistently produce a top quality calf every 365 days
  • A high fertile cow that will go back in calf
  • Plenty of milk to rear a bull to 300kgs and a heifer to 250kgs at 200days of age
  • A cow with good docility

As a result, Wesley has a herd of mixed breeds mainly Saler x Lim , Lim X Simmental with a mature weight of 650kgs – a functional , R grade cow ,that is not too heavy and that will rear a good calf.

The cows are 5 star on the replacement index (€114) . It is important to note they are 5 star for carcase weight (+20kgs) which is a very important in a finishing system and also they are 5 star for milk. The 90 cows are divided in groups of 30 and 3 bulls are used Simmental, Lim and a Saler.

Stage 2: Calf to housing - target 350kgs

The cows start calving in mid February and it will finish by the end of April. Calving compactly is essential in a bull system as  all the calves can be managed as one group . There will be approximately 40-45 male calves with an age gap of just 6-8 weeks from youngest to oldest. They can all be treated as one e.g at dosing/weaning and in particular when it comes to feeding in the finishing period the following year.

In the first summer, Wesley is totally focussed on keeping high quality,  leafy grass in front of the cows. The farm has excellent infrastructure and is divided into 2 to 3 day paddocks either with permanent fencing or by using pigtails and reels.

The target is to keep pre-grazing yields at 1500kgs/DM/ha for the first summer. He walks the farm on a weekly basis , measures the grass and uses pasturebase Ireland to support decision making around controlling grass.

Faecal samples are taken in July/August and if there is a burden of lungworm , the calves will be treated accordingly.


Stage 3; 350kgs to 500kgs

Due to the farms location in Co.Monaghan , stock are generally housed for the winter in mid October. All calves are vaccinated with Bovipast and for IBR. At housing they are given a dose for lungworms also. The calves will then be weaned and fed high quality silage (78%DMD) silage with 2 kgs of meal/head/day until December.  Wesley’s uses a tub diet feeder to mix the ration and it also saves a lot of time. Wesley used straw as a fibre source in the past and struggled to get sufficient fat cover on the bulls. In the past 2 years , he has introduced silage as this has improved the fat cover significantly.


The housing conditions on the farm are excellent. The bulls have plenty of space. They all have access to the feed barrier and stand on slats while feeding. They are also given a lie-back area which is bedded. As bulls spend a lot of time lying down – a comfortable environment is key to driving daily liveweight gains. Access to plenty of fresh water is also an important factor. Faecal samples are taken again in December and treated for fluke if necessary.

Final Stage: 500kgs to 680kgs

In December the meal is increased gradually to 6kgs/head/ per day and this is mixed with high quality silage. In the first week of February, the meal is increased further to 8kgs /day which is the start of the 100 day finishing period.

The bulls are weighed regularly to monitor performance. Wesley aims to have the bulls weighing 500kgs at 12 months of age. At the start of the final finishing period the bulls are penned according to weight .  There will be no mixing of pens  or introduction of new stock into the shed in order to keep the bulls calm.

On the 29th of April the average bull weight was 556kgs . They gained 1.98kgs per day since the weighing on the 30th of March .  13 bulls were weighed on May 15th and had an average of 637kgs which is 1.36kg gain since birth.

In total, a bull will consume 1300kgs in its lifetime.

The target weight for the Wesley is 680 to 700kgs at a fat class of at least 2+. Drafting for slaughter started in May. He will run the bulls through the crush prior to slaughter to check for weight and fat cover. On the day of slaughter , Wesley will load the bulls at 7am and transport them  directly to ABP in Clones.


Ground conditions and grass growth are starting to improve.

Picture: 15th May, ground conditions impoving at last!

At the start of May the average farm cover was just 607kgsDM/ha but with growth increasing to above the 60kgsDM per day for May – the AFC has increased to 743kgs. Growth is now outpacing demand at 35kgsDM/ha and there is currently over 21 days grazing ahead. Silage will be cut by the end of the month once ground conditions improve

20 acres of land was sprayed with Forefront T as there is a dock problem on the farm  The application rate was 2Litres/ha with 300litres of water. Forefront will kill both broadleaf and curled docks. Wesley sprayed the field well in advance (7day+) of being grazed .




The 3 bulls went out on the 3rd of May. The 90 cows are divided into groups of 30 and each group is either the LM, Simm or Saler bull. Wesley keeps his calving period tight and will pull the bulls on June 30th. So far there has been plenty of activity.

The Simmental bull is running with the LIM x Saler type cows and the Saler with the heifers for calving ease.