I’m operating a 20 month Friesian bull beef system on 60 ha of grassland just outside the village of Castleplunket, Co. Roscommon.
Bull Beef System
As I run a 20 month bull beef system, 25 of my heavier bulls were housed from the middle of July weighed on average 490kg with the plan to have them finished in October to free up housing. The bulls are currently preforming very well since housing and are doing close to 2kg per day on average and are currently on 6kg of concentrates and good quality silage. The good weather has allowed me to keep the remaining bulls out longer than usual but the next group will be housed shortly and the remaining group in Mid-September to build covers and extend the grazing season for younger stock.
With the farm been a predominantly heavy type soil, this year has been an exceptional year for grass. The dry weather meant grass utilisation remained high, but this part of the country still got adequate rain when required meaning growth exceeded demand for the majority of the year. This has allowed me to reduce my chemical nitrogen use and also still take out quite a number of surplus paddocks to try and maintain grass quality in front of the stock.
In early June I decided to reseed 10 acres of grass to a red clover sward in order to try and produce high quality silage with reduced chemical nitrogen use. It is early days yet but I am pleased with the results. Farmyard manure was spread on the ground and ploughed in and at sowing the reseed received 3 bags of 10-10-20 per acres as well as well as lime. A clover-safe, post-emergence spray, was applied 6 weeks post sowing and the first cut of close to 5 bales per acre was taken the 8th of August. Since then 2000 gallons of cattle slurry was applied per acre and growth has been very good and I hope to cut this from mid-September. If weather allows I will give the reseed a light grazing with calves in the back end to provide the clover with light over the winter period to encourage it to persist in the sward.
In terms of animal husbandry, a round of faecal sampling took place earlier in the summer to assist me in my dosing strategy, at the time there was very little of a worm burden so I decided against dosing but shortly after this I noticed coughing starting to develop so I treated animals with an Ivermectin to protect again lungworm and this worked well. I will continue to monitor and possibly take further faecal samples to monitor burdens.
All of the animals will be weighed when entering the shed at housing to not only evaluate their performance over the grazing season but to examine the levels of weight gain achieved when they are turned out to grass next spring. Silage samples will be taken shortly for analysis and results will determine concentrate supplementation required over the winter months.
I will start closing paddocks on the farm from mid-October to ensure there is adequate grass for the spring. I have earmarked a few paddocks with a low pH for liming in the coming weeks.