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Suckler Beef Open Day in Kerry

A national suckler beef open day will take place on the farm of Mike Dillane of Liscullane, Lixnaw, Co.Kerry on Thursday July 24th at 2pm and 6pm.

Mike Dillane joined the Teagasc/ Irish Farmers Journal BETTER farm beef programme in 2012. This is a joint industry programme between Teagasc and the Irish Farmers Journal, with support from stakeholders, Kepak, Dawn Meats, ABP and FBD. It is aimed at improving the profitability of 32 beef farms situated in every county throughout Ireland and using these farms to transfer knowledge to all interested beef farmers.

  As part of the programme participating farmers complete a 3 year farm plan and make changes within the farm gate to increase the profitability and sustainability of their farms. Areas concentrated on include farm output and financial planning, grassland management including growing and utilising more grass, breeding and fertility in the suckler cow and also animal health to have a healthy suckler herd.

Teagasc advisers Oliver McGrath and Alan Dillon have assisted Mike Dillane in making steady progress towards the target of achieving €1,000/Ha gross margin within 3 years of joining the programme. Mike farms 59 hectares (147 acres) of predominantly heavy land and runs a suckling to weanling/finishing system with 88 cows calving in the 2014 calving period. Calving takes place from late September to early February currently with a focus on moving calving to September to December to reduce workload. Cows are mainly Limousin and Blonde cross with 100% AI Charolais, Limousin and Belgian Blue bulls used to produce top quality weanlings. These weanlings are either sold for export or finished on farm as under 16 month bulls or 20 month old heifers. Since 2011 stocking rate on the farm has increased from 1.57 L.U. /Ha to 1.97 L.U. /Ha and gross margin has increased from €85/Ha in 2011 to €311/Ha in 2013, or a 265% increase over the past 2 years. The prediction for 2014 is for a gross margin of €800/ha with a stocking rate of 2.15LU/ha

This increase is as a result of increasing output on the farm by increasing cow numbers from 67 to 88, moving from selling all weanlings in the autumn to carrying up to 50% of stock on to finish, moving to 100% AI usage and using a proportion of maternal sires to breed replacements, increasing soil fertility, draining and reclaiming a portion of silage ground, increasing number of paddocks and growing more grass.

  Topics to be covered on the day include:

·       The Dillane Farm System and Farm Plan - “How to increase output in a weanling/finishing system on heavy land”

·       Grassland Management-“ Paddocking my farm and utilising more grass”

·       Sire Choice and Weanling/finishing markets-“ The €1000/ Ha Gross Margin challenge”

·       Land drainage “Draining heavy land - best methods”

·       Breeding and Genetics- “The ideal suckler cow for a weanling/finishing system”

Experts from Teagasc, Irish Farmers Journal, Bord Bia, ICBF and other stakeholders will be present on the day to answer farmers questions. A full range of stock will be on display.

Two farm tours will take place, the first at 2pm and the second at 6pm

Commenting on the open day BETTER farm beef programme manager, Adam Woods, said: “The open day on Thursday, 24th July affords farmers an excellent opportunity to come and see a well-run suckler to weanling/finishing system operating on a difficult soil type. The decision to invest money in a large scale drainage programme has paid off with a huge increase in grass utilisation on this farm. Teagasc drainage experts will carry out a live demo on the day to demonstrate the drainage work carried out on the farm. Mike has demonstrated by implementing simple technologies on a suckler beef farm, that profitability can be increased.

The event will be signposted from the N69 from Listowel/Tralee and from the village of Abbeydorney (R557)

The event is BTAP approved and farmers can sign in on the day to comply with this programme. Food and refreshments will be available.

Farmers are asked to arrive at either 2pm or 6pm as only two farm tours will take place during the day.

  For further information about the national open day contact Loreto Ferguson, Specialists Office, Teagasc, Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan, or telephone 049 4338300

  [3.13MB PFD]