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Teagasc/Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm Beef Open Days

Over 500 beef farmers attended an open day on the farm of James Madigan, Derrynahinch, Ballyhale, Co. Kilkenny today, Thursday, 4 September. This is the first in a series of 4 open days being held in September as part of the Teagasc / Irish Farmers Journal BETTER farm beef programme. The open days highlight improvements made on the demonstration farms since joining the programme with specific focus on autumn grassland management to ensure fields are closed in time for early turnout to grass next spring.

Commenting on the open days programme manager, Adam Woods, Teagasc, said: “It is very important to put a plan in place in autumn and get management right to ensure early turnout can take place next spring. Many of the demonstration farms will start closing off paddocks from early October, ensuring paddocks are closed for 120 days to target turnout in February for 2015. There is always the temptation to graze these fields again in mid-November but we are urging farmers not to do this”.

Farmers attending the open day today heard how James Madigan has increased output from his 65 hectare holding through increasing stocking rate and improving animal performance. This improvement stemmed from maximising his grass growth and maintaining quality swards ahead of grazing stock at all times. A particular emphasis was also given to increasing soil fertility, with 83% of the farm now over 6.2 Ph. Operating a grass based steer and heifer finishing system with a high proportion of lifetime gain coming from grass, James is in a position to reduce his costs as much as he can, and remain economically viable. James has worked closely with his local Teagasc adviser Austin Flavin and programme adviser Peter Lawrence in developing a plan for his farm to increase profits.

Other open days taking place as part of the programme are;

Wednesday, 10th September, Chris McCarthy, Crookedwood, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath

The theme for this event is “Let’s Keep Suckling Simple”. Chris farms 28 hectares just outside Mullingar in Co. Westmeath. Chris is part-time farming and time management is very important. Farmers attending the open day will see how Chris has streamlined and simplified his system for maximum return. Calving 55 cows in a suckling to weaning system, Chris has shifted to an earlier calving date to maximise weaning weight. Farmers on the day will learn how he went about achieving this while maintaining good fertility in the herd. Chris pays particular attention to weanling health making sure no health problems occur on the farm.

Thursday, 11th September, Ger Dineen, Kilnamartyra, Macroom, Co. Cork

The theme for this event is “Better Breeding, Better Profit”. Ger farms 31 hectare just outside Macroom in Co. Cork. Ger keeps 55 suckler cows and finished his bulls in a 16 month finishing system. In 2014, 55% of the bulls finished at 14 months at an average carcass weight of 413kg. Over the last 20 years, Ger has put a huge effort into using top maternal genetics to deliver high genetic merit maternal suckler cows. On the day farmers will get the chance to compare calf performance from low index cows compared to high index cows.

Tuesday, 16th September, David Mitchell, Shantonagh, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan

The theme for this event is “Finishing Cattle on Drumlin soils”. David farms 50 hectares just outside Castleblayney in Co. Monaghan and runs a 40 suckler cow herd along with a mid-season ewe flock of 70 ewes. Finishing cattle on a heavy soil can be quite difficult and the past two years has impacted on profitability on this heavy soil farm. Improvements have been made in soil fertility and the farm is also part of the Teagasc Agri-Catchments programme where monitoring takes place in the catchment to assess the environmental and economic effects of measures undertaken as part of the nitrates directive. David markets his lamb and beef through the Monaghan Cattle Producer Group and the Monaghan Lamb Producer Group where David gets rewarded for producing in spec quality assured cattle and sheep. Farmers on the day will see how David aims to maximise animal performance at grass to avoid high cost indoor finishing.

Topics that will be covered at all events are:
•    Autumn Grassland Management
•    Animal Performance
•    Breeding and Fertility
•    Farm Profitability

All events will have 2 farm tours, one at 2pm and one at 6pm.

All events are BTAP approved.

Representatives from Teagasc, Irish Farmers Journal, Bord Bia and ICBF and other stakeholders will be present for questions

See www.teagasc.ie or www.farmersjournal.ie for further details.