Location: Ballycarney, Co. Wexford
Farm size: 54ha
Current System: 22 month Friesian bulls and 24 month Friesian steers
Local Teagasc Advisor: James Doran
Thomas Kennedy farms 54ha just outside Ballycarney, Co. Wexford, where he runs a calf to beef enterprise, alongside a herd of 35 spring-calving suckler cows. Friesian and Hereford bull calves are purchased in the autumn of each year, with the best performers destined for bull beef at 22 months.
The remainder are slaughtered as steers at 24 months. Frequent weighing complements this system, as weanlings not capable of hitting the bull beef targets can be identified early and be redirected down the steer route.
Historically, Thomas purchased spring-born Friesian bull calves that were brought to beef as 24+ month steers.
However, in a bid to maximise the returns achieved, the decision was made to switch to autumn-born calves in 2017. This allowed Thomas to sell finished bulls in June – a typical price high point in the year.
Although the bull route is risky, autumn purchasing means that animals are ready to hit grass early in the first grazing season.
Along with the Friesian and Hereford bulls and steers, Thomas also buys a number of spring-born Limousin calves, which are slaughtered at 20-22 months.
One of Thomas’ strong points is the grazing infrastructure available. He has invested and installed paddocks and roadways, which facilitate grazing in early to mid-February each year. Through the use of this infrastructure and a reseeding plan, an overall farm stocking rate of 2.29LU/ha is carried.