Newford Suckler Demonstration Farm - Early Turnout of Yearling Heifers to Grass
Michael Fagan, Teagasc Technician on the Newford Suckler Demonstration Farm in Athenry gives an update on the Newford yearling heifers and how they performed over the winter period. He also gives an insight into how they expect the heifers to perform during the year from this early turnout to grass.
The 56 Newford heifers were housed on the 30th of October 2020 at 349 Kg. At housing the heifers received good quality 75% DMD silage per day until turnout. They also received 2 Kgs of an 18% crude protein ration per day during the months of November, December and January. The total cost of concentrates fed per heifer over the 3 months was €48. The 56 yearling heifers were housed for 120 days over the winter period and their average turnout date to grass was the 27th of February 2021.
From housing on the 30th of October to turn out to grass on the 27th of February the heifers gained an average of 62 Kilograms body weight or 0.52 kilograms per day over the 120 day housing period meaning the heifers were turned out to grass, on average, at 411kg liveweight.
All the heifers are sire by 5 star terminal bulls such as
- Mullary Intrepid
- Ewdenvale Ivor
This Limousin Mullary Intrepid sire heifer was born on the 28th of March 2020 out of a Hereford cross cow. Her turnout weight was 383 Kgs and she had an average daily gain over the winter period of 0.57 Kilogram per day. Gaining 69 Kgs since housing.
This Charolais Heifer by Bivouac was born on the 26th of January 2020 out of a Hereford cross cow. Her turnout weight was 501 Kgs and she had an average daily gain over the 120 days housing period of 0.60 Kilogram per day. This heifer gained 72 Kgs since housing.
Another Charolais Heifer by Bivouac was born on the 9th of March 2020 out of a Hereford cross cow. Her turnout weight was 450 Kgs and she had an average daily gain over the winter period of 0.67 Kilogram per day. Gaining 80 Kgs since housing.
This Charolais Heifer by Fiston was born on the 1st February 2020 out of an AA cross cow. Her turnout weight was 474 Kgs and she had an average daily gain over the winter period of 0.69 Kilogram per day. The heifer gained 82 Kgs since housing.
This orange Charolais Heifer by Bivouac was born on the 4th of February 2020 out of a Hereford cross cow. Her turnout weight was 439 Kgs and she had an average daily gain over the 120 days housing period of 0.61 Kilogram per day. This heifer gain 73 Kgs since housing.
Due to heavy rainfall and poor grazing conditions getting out to grass this spring has been difficult. The farm will keep turnout stock as much as possible weather depending as each additional day at grass is worth €2.00/LU and grazing off the winter growth as soon as possible will stimulate new spring grass growth.
The closing up of all paddocks in rotation last autumn ensured us, that we had enough of grass built up which allow us to turn out the stock now. With the help of PastureBase and our spring rotation planner, we aim to have one third of the farm grazed by the 17th of March, two third’s by the 1st April & the last third by mid- April before starting to close up paddocks for silage. The aim is to utilise 1 tonne of grass Dry matter in the first rotation.
We are grazing off a portion of our grazing block first, before moving onto grazing the silage ground. This method ensures that the grass on the paddocks grazed first has time to recover before the second rotation and then we can close up silage ground on time as planned. This will help us to have a good grazing structure in place for the year ahead to grow as much quality grass as possible and maximise weight gain from grass.
We intend to finish a large portion of these heifers off grass and expect the heifers to achieved on average 0.9 to 1 Kilogram over the grazing season but this will mainly depend on weather conditions during the year.