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Newford Notes - Week of 13th September 2021

Michael Fagan, Teagasc Technician of the Newford Suckler Demonstration Farm in Athenry gives us an update on suckler scanning results, the breeding heifers, finishing cattle, feeding meal and weaning progress on the farm. He also introduces the new leading stock person at Newford farm, Jerry O'Brien

Pictured above: Jerry O Brien “Agricultural Graduate “ and new leading stock person, at Newford farm

Newford Suckler herd

Newford Suckler herd was scanned last Monday the 6th of September and out of the 81 cows which was bred at the start of the breeding season

    • 76 cows scanned in-calf (94% in-calf)
    • 46 cows held to the first services (57%)
    • 23 cows held to the 2nd services (29%)
    • 4 cows held to the 3rd services (5%)
    • 3 cows held to the 4th services (8%)
    • The 5 cows not in-calf will be cull out of the herd after weaning


Breeding Heifers 

The 26 maiden bulling heifers (pictured below) were synchronised on the 13th of April and were inseminated over a six-week period. They were scanned on the 9th of July.


The six-week breeding season finished on the 2nd of June

  • 18 heifers scanned in-calf (69%)
  • 13 heifers held to the first service

Of the remaining eight heifers which did not go in-calf the scanning found that one heifer had a cyst while one heifer had lost her embryo and another heifer was treated for meningitis during the breeding season.

  • The 8 heifers not in-calf will be finished off as beef animals on the farm
  • The 2 teaser bulls who were running with the suckler cows are now on 8Kg of concentrates and will be sold off at a later stage.

Beef Animals

At the moment there are 42 beef heifers being fed concentrates at grass (4Kg per day) costing 30.5 cent per Kg of concentrate. Ration feeding of 12% protein for the heifers started on the 26th of July. Newford will be aiming to draft a large portion of these heifers towards the end of the month.

There are also 12 bullocks being fed concentrates at grass, these 12 bullocks were introduced to concentrates on the 2nd of September.

  • The average weight of the 12 bullocks is 622 Kg (7thSeptember)
  • The average daily gain from turnout 2nd March  for the 12 bullocks is 0.84 Kg (189 days)
  • The farm is aiming to sell these bullocks late September / early October roughly at 650 Kg live weight and targeting 54% kill out (350+ Kg carcass) at 20 months of age

  • Sire: Fiston Live weight 624 Kg on the 7th September
  • Average Daily Gain from turnout 0.96 Kg (189 days at grass to date) 

Weaning at Newford

All the suckler calves are thriving well at grass, weather conditions have been very favourable.

  • All calves are receiving concentrates at grass which is also part of the BEEP-S scheme
  • To prepare the calves for weaning all the calves have been treated with an “ Intra-nasal” RSP live vaccination to reduce the risk of pneumonia after weaning
  • Newford Farm started its weaning of the heifer calves on Monday the 13th of September

  •  The weaning procedure includes housing weanlings in adjacent penning to their dams. Gates are tied in place so weanlings cannot access cows to suckle. The fact that they still have visual and sensory access to cows is helping in reducing stress.
  • While housed weanlings have access to concentrates and silage, while cows are offered straw only to aid in reducing milk yield and drying off.
  • After a separation period of 36 hours, the weanlings are joined back with cows for their last suck. The weanlings are then moved to a straw-bedded shed which is out of sight of cows. 
  • They continue to have access to concentrates and silage.

  • The next priority for the weanlings is to get them back to grass as soon as possible with this practice also helping to lower the risk of any health issues.
  • When the cows are dried off they will be fed silage. Slats are scraped daily and a light layer of lime is spread on top of the slats. This practice has proven to be very successful over the last number of years in helping to reduce the incidence of mastitis.
  • Faecal egg sampling of the suckler herd was carried out last week as part of Newford Farm requirements of the BEEP-S scheme.

Newford farm has a new agricultural graduate stock person "Jerry O’ Brien" who will be the leading stock person and carry out administration of activities on Newford farm

Grass performance

More information on the Newford Herd can be found here