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Focusing on animal health and performance on Co. Waterford Future Beef Farm

Focusing on animal health and performance on Co. Waterford Future Beef Farm

Eamon and his son Donnchadh farm in Carrigeen, Glendine, Youghal, Co. Waterford. In this update, they focus on animal health, breeding, nutrition and performance.

The winter housing period provides a great opportunity to treat cattle for a good clear out of worms and fluke from their systems. Eamon and Donnchadh have a number of cattle groups to consider when dosing this winter – cows, finishing cattle, store cattle, and weanlings.

The autumn and spring cows will not be dosed, as it is expected that they will have built up immunity to worms over their lifetime. The autumn 2022 bulls were housed for finishing in August and dosed with an albendazole drench, which only has a 14-day withdrawal period. This treated them for stomach worms, lung worms, and adult liver fluke. A faecal egg count (FEC) sample showed the bulls were positive for both lung and stomach worms.

The finishing bulls were dosed at housing to avoid any setbacks in performance

The weanlings and yearlings will be dosed with an ivermectin pour-on at housing to treat them for lung worms, stomach worms and lice. Eamon and Donnchadh have a dry farm, and liver and rumen fluke are not typically issues. They monitor the Animal Health Ireland (AHI) Beef HealthCheck reports for any incidence of fluke, especially this year when the summer was so wet. For example, the report from July 21 showed lung and liver scores of 1, indicating that they presented as normal. The report from the latest group of slaughtered heifers is due and will be studied closely. 

FEC samples will be taken six and 12 weeks after housing to check for any liver fluke eggs, but also to ensure that the housing dose worked effectively against lung and stomach worms. If liver fluke eggs are present, a triclabendazole or closantel drench/pour-on can be administered to kill the early immature (less than six weeks), immature (six to 10 weeks) and mature (>11 weeks) fluke. Fluke is a complicated parasite and you really need to look at threat level on your farm. To read more on the life cycle and treatment of liver fluke click here

Beef HealthCheck report for two heifers and a cow slaughtered in July 2023.
Supplier: Eamon and Donnchadh Date of slaughter: July 21, 2023

Sex Age (months) Carcass (kg) Liver score Lung score
E* 22 333.2 1 1
E 23 336.1 1 1
D 77 363.2 1 1

A = young bull, B = bull, C = steer, D = cow, E = heifer


18 cows calved in total between 24th July and 9th September, with 7 bulls and 11 heifers. No mortalities occurred.

Breeding started on 3rd October and 22 out of 24 cows/ heifers have been bred to date. Only one cow has been selected for culling and won’t be bred. Breeding will finish after 6 weeks on 14th November. 4 cows and 1 heifer have repeated so far.

The bulls picked for breeding are:

  • CH4252 – Excellent terminal, poor replacement, not suitable for heifers
  • CH4082 – Excellent terminal, poor replacement, not suitable for heifers
  • CH4321 – Excellent terminal, poor replacement, not suitable for heifers
  • AA4683 – Good replacement, okay terminal, suitable for heifers
  • SI4083 – Good replacement, okay terminal, not suitable for heifers
  • SI2469 – Good replacement, okay terminal, not suitable for heifers

Animal Nutrition

Silage samples were taken on the farm and returned the following results:

  • Sample 1: 63.6% DMD at 10.1% crude protein
  • Sample 2: 67.4% DMD at 11.2% crude protein
  • Sample 3: 68.1% DMD at 12.8% crude protein
  • Sample 4: 73.2% DMD at 14.4% crude protein

The home-grown barley was also tested and tested at 8.6% for crude protein.

This information allows Eamon and Donnchadh to balance diets for the various groups of stock on their farm over the winter. The autumn cows will be prioritised on the 73.2% DMD silage and will receive 2kg barley and minerals with this to ensure adequate energy in the diet for breeding and rearing their calves.

The spring and autumn heifers will be fed the 67.4% DMD silage which will be balanced with 1.5kg barley and 0.5kg soya bean meal.

The spring born finishing bulls will start on 68.1% DMD silage (as there is a limited number of 73.2% DMD bales) and be supplemented with 2.5kg barley, 0.4kg soya bean meal and 2kg of a 14% CP ration until they go on their finishing diet.

The autumn bulls are already on their finishing diet which consists of straight barley mixed in with ration.


The 2021 autumn born finishing bulls (4) averaged 652kg on 22nd October, having gained 1.88kg/day since 8th October.

The 2022 spring born bulls (24) were weighed on 5th November. They averaged 345kg, having gained 0.97 kg/day since 1st of August.

One suckler cow was slaughtered on 26th October. She graded O-2+ and had a carcass weight of 310kg.

Stock GroupNo. CattleWeighing Date

Average Weight


ADG Since Last Weighing
2021 Autumn Bulls 4 22/10/2022 652

1.88 kg/day

(Since 08/10/22)

2022 Spring Bulls 24 05/11/2022 345

0.97 kg/day

(Since 01/08/22)

Find out more about the Future Beef Programme