Farmer Profile: Christy Dowd
Castlerea, Co. Roscommon
Teagasc Adviser: Ger Cregg
Christy is farming 43ha and is carrying 43 cows on a suckling to weanling enterprise using all AI bulls. He is an ex-dairy farmer and this can be clearly seen in his attitude to grassland management. He has been measuring the home block of 28ha on Pasture Base over the last year and has grown over 14t DM/ha on some paddocks. This grass budgeting gives him the confidence to make informed decisions on spreading fertiliser or taking out paddocks for silage. It also shows him which paddocks are performing well and which are a priority for reseeding and the aim is now to put paddocks on the whole farm.
Christy has adequate housing for his suckler cows and 60 dairy bred weanlings. His dairy experience and calf rearing in the past has given him the confidence to try and diversify his farming enterprise. He has decided to rear 60 calves in spring 2015. He is probably going to buy Friesian calves and slaughter them at 24 months. He may choose Friesians this year because early maturing Angus and Hereford calves have been so expensive to date. The 18-20 month steer or heifer system would suit Christy ideally because he is a top grassland manager and could put a lot of weight on cheaply at grass. The Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme will help Christy get up and running with his new calf rearing enterprise. He is diversifying to increase output on his farm and this should be of great interest to many other suckler farmers who wish to continue suckling but may also wish to rear some calves for the first time.