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Derrypatrick Herd Update

The difficulties experienced by all farmers this year due to the weather were mirrored at the Teagasc Derrypatrick Suckler Beef Herd in Grange, Co Meath.

Rainfall on the farm was 215% greater than in 2011 and was 30% greater than the long term average. Sunshine intensity was 11% lower than in 2011.

These weather conditions combined to lower grass yields, led to difficult grazing conditions, lower silage yields and higher feed and fertiliser costs.

Teagasc researcher Paul Crosson told farmers attending an open day on the farm that Gross Margin in 2012 was predicted to be down by 43% compared to last year, to €658 per hectare. He said that 20% of the reduction was due to the direct effect of the weather, 16% was due to herd performance, part of which was also attributed to the impact of the difficult year on animal performance, and 7 % was due to price inflation. The higher cost of replacement heifers coming into the herd was also a factor.

Grass is the cheapest feed produced on farms and is a cornerstone of profitable livestock systems. Teagasc researcher Denis Minogue said that grazed grass is our low cost feed and our ability to harness this will prove beneficial in terms of performance and increasing stocking rates, and therefore the more output the system will deliver. This year’s weather caused difficulties in growing and utilising grass, leading to higher costs. The Derrypatrick farm grew and utilised approximately 30% less grass dry matter in 2012 compared to 2011.

The study on the Derrypatrick research demonstration farm is being changed.

On the next phase it is proposed to:

  • Select replacements on the New Suckled Cow Maternal Index
  • Use both Early and Late maturing sires on the herd
  • Take the male progeny to finish as either bulls or steers.