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Peter O'Hanrahan Signpost DairyBeef farmer

Peter O'Hanrahan Signpost DairyBeef farmer

Peter O Hanrahan operates a dairy calf to beef system in partnership with his father Thomas in Kiljames, Thomastown, Co.Kilkenny. Enda McLoughlin, Teagasc Drystock Advisor, sums up grassland management, soil sampling, Preparation for Calves arriving on the farm and Health and Vaccination programme

Farm Profile

The farms consists of 91 ha of grassland.  Over 200 calves are purchased in spring from 2/3 weeks of age and are brought through to slaughter anywhere between 22-28 months of age. All purchases are limited to a small number of local farms of which the genetic makeup and herd health status is known. All calves follow a vaccination programme which centres on pneumonia, IBR and clostridial diseases. The farm is dry in nature and grazing can be extended into the shoulders of the year through careful management. Since the beginning of the programme, a large degree of work has been completed in terms of splitting larger fields into paddocks. Grass forms the backbone of the O’Hanrahans’ system and it will continue to do so into the future. As the farm is dry, 280-300 days of grazing are achievable when the correct management practices are used. For this to occur, a flexible mind-set and good grazing infrastructure are required. Peter and Thomas are grass measuring on a regular basis which provides key information to help manage and utilise grass on the farm.

Management update

Soil Sampling – Samples were taken in February 2022. High fertility fields have been identified with the option of omitting P & K applications on these paddocks for 2022. Slurry was targeted for silage ground and lower P & K index grazing fields.

Preparation for Calves arriving on the farm: Calf houses were washed & disinfected in advance of calves arriving on farm. The calf feeder has been serviced and milk powder delivered in advance. The first calves arrived on the 19th of February. Upon arrival into the calf shed calves are given access to a fresh deep bed of straw, fresh water and calf crunch. Calves are then registered with their EID tag for the automatic calf feeders.  

Health and Vaccination programme – Upon arrival calves are left for 24 hours to acclimatize and get used to their new environment. Peter and Thomas then dose all calves for coccidiosis. A rigorous vaccination programme is followed at this time which centers on pneumonia and IBR. The pneumonia vaccine used covers for RSV/Pi3/Pasturella.

Grazing/Silage ground: The grazing season started in the middle of January with the turnout of some yearling cattle. The spring rotation planner is now almost complete. Silage ground is closed having received between 2,500-3000 gallons/acre of slurry before been topped up with a nitrogen based fertiliser. Slurry and fertiliser applications for silage on the O’Hanrahans’ farm were planned on the basis of a Nutrient Management Plan. Lower-index fields – for phosphorous and potassium – were targeted with 3,000gallons/acre of slurry and topped up with sufficient quantities of artificial N. Where slurry was not available, compound fertilisers were used in order to provide the grass plant with the necessary allowances of N, P and K.

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