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Newford Farm National Open Day

Newford Farm, the 100-cow suckler-to-beef demonstration herd launched in 2015 and located in Athenry, county Galway will host a national open day on Wednesday 25 May. The event, which runs from 2pm to 7pm and has farm walks starting every half hour, will give visitors a chance to see the production system in action and hear how the farm is dealing with the knock-on effects of a difficult spring.

The suckler enterprise has to-date attracted high levels of interest with the first-cross Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cows bred from the dairy herd a break from the norm on Irish suckler farms. The fact that all progeny on the fragmented 55.8ha farm are brought through to beef with the aim of finishing predominately off grass at 18 to 22 months of age is also in contrast to most finishing systems. Farmers will have the opportunity to assess the system for themselves and also see how the farm is focused on implementing management practices that lend itself to being run with one labour unit, Farm Manager Matthew Murphy, while still aiming to produce high output from a grass-based production system.

Key discussion points on the day:

Cow type – what attributes must a cow possess to be profitable. Milk, fertility, production efficiency, longevity and docility are the central pillars on which the herd is based.

The production system – for farmers to replicate, the system must be profitable. The farm plan including the physical and financial targets will be explained.

Breeding programme – every cow rearing a calf with good weight for age is the backbone of the system. Hear about how AI is used in a 100-cow herd and why easy calving continental sires are the perfect fit. Also, not to forget, the farm is contract rearing its replacements.

Grassland management – The farm is stocked at about 2.7LU/ha putting immense pressure on grass demand. See what decisions and changes to infrastructure have been made.

Herd health – when a system is running at peak performance, extra pressure is often placed on health. A comprehensive herd health plan will be explained in detail.

Other attractions

Representatives from key industry organisations such as Bord Bia, Irish Cattle Breeding Federation and Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, along with Dawn Meats, Irish Farmers Journal and Teagasc personnel will be in attendance to discuss any farmers’ queries. All stock will be on display and farmers will also get the chance to talk to Dawn Meats procurement personnel as part of a live exhibition on drafting animals and market specifications for Newford’s beef cattle.