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Green Acres Update - 8 July 2021

Key Management Tips  |  Staying focused on weight targets  |  Tracking thrive over previous years 

Key Management Tips

  • Continue to monitor the health of your calves at grass over the coming weeks – listen out for signs of lungworm, conduct faecal egg tests to gauge worm burden, keep an eye out for cases of pneumonia
  • Weigh all of your stock in the coming weeks and compare them to the targets set for them. This will inform your decision making over the coming months
  • Assess the condition of cattle you are finishing off grass this summer, draft for slaughter at the correct fat score
  • Mid-summer is an ideal time to spray grassland for weeds. Always follow the manufacturers guidelines and DAFM regulations when spraying
  • Maintain a grazing rotation length of 18-21 days. Maximise grass quality as much as possible through grazing the correct covers (8-10cm), applying Nitrogen post grazing and top post grazing when needed.

Staying focused on weight targets

In the Teagasc Green Acres programme all cattle are weighed three times annually at turnout, mid-season & housing. The weighing of all stock will be completed over the course of early July as part of the annual mid-season weighing. This will allow each farmer to gauge how different groups of stock are performing relative to the targets set. It will allow for more accurate decision making in how their cattle will be managed over the coming months.

The below table outlines the weight targets at turnout, mid-season and housing for five different calf to beef production systems. These systems include three different HOFR steer systems with varying slaughter ages of 21, 24 & 28 months of age, as well as an early maturing steer and early maturing heifer system.

Calf DOB: 15th Feb

 StageDateHOFR steer - 21mth slaughter. Weight kgHOFR steer - 24mth slaughter. Weight kgHOFR steer - 28mth slaughter. Weight kgAA/HE steer - 23mth slaughter. Weight kgAA/HE heifer - 28mth slaughter. Weight kg
First season targets

Reared calf 15th May 90 90 90 90 85
Mid-season 1st July 126 126 126 137 120
Housing 1st Nov 220 220 220 230 210
Second season targets

Turnout 1st March 292 292 292 310 280
Mid-season 1st July 414 402 402 420 402
Finish start 15th Sept 490 - - - 465
Housing 1st Nov - 510 510 5209 -
Slaughter   550 - 15th Nov 620 - 1st Feb - 620 - 1st Feb 525 - 1st Nov
Third season targets Turnout 1st March - - 550 - -
Mid-season 1st July - - 680 - -

Tracking thrive over previous years

Having two years’ worth of regular cattle weighing to look back on for the Teagasc Green Acres farms allows us to accurately track changes in animal performance from year to year.

An aim of the Teagasc Green Acres programme is to continually improve efficiency year on year and demonstrate how best practice can impact on animal and system efficiency.

The below table summarises the difference in performance between housing 2019 and 2020 cattle weights, when the animals are balanced for age. An assumption has been made that male calves have a birth weight of 40kg and a 35kg birth weight has been applied to females.

Animal Type2019
Weight kg
Weight kg
Change %
+/- kg
AA/HE females 195 211 +16
AA/HE males 206 227 +20
Continental females 204 213 +9
Continental males 190 221 +31
HOFR males 230 254 +24
HOFR autumn born males 340 360 +20

Overall, improvements in housing weighings were achieved across every calf category relative to the year previous, ranging from an increase of 9kg liveweight in the continental females to an increase of 31kg in the continental males. Further improvements in on farm efficiency have been seen so far in 2021 with improvements in animal weight gain again expected.

The extent of these improvements will become evident in the near future, when all of the cattle in the programme are weighed in early July for their mid-season weighing.

Now is an ideal opportunity for you to weigh your own calf to beef animals and compare their weights to those of the Teagasc Green Acres programme.