Name: Libby Clarke
Enterprise: Suckler Farmer - Beef Shorthorn and Charolais breeder.
This week saw a few days away from the farm to attend the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh - as did half the country! So many farmers from Ireland travel across to this event annually with total attendance figures over the four days in excess of 190,000. I had the honour of being asked to judge the Beef Shorthorns, which was the largest breed numerically at the entire show!
The quality of cattle forward was just tremendous, with the overall Champion being a super three-year-old home-bred bull owned by Andrew Anderson, Aberdeenshire. The classes were big with the two-year-old heifer class having 24 forward! The females were won by Cherryvalley Estates, Antrim with a young Creaga Shorthorn cow with calf at foot and she was also Reserve Supreme Champion. It was great to see such a big crowd watching on ringside as the Beef Shorthorn breed continues to gain momentum with commercial and pedigree farmers alike.
Now that I'm back home and the dust has settled, this week has seen many friends and neighbours harvest silage and hay.... but at this point we need rain! None to talk about for over a month has seen growth halt and water from the borehole supply is at the lowest pressure I've ever seen. The cattle are all content enough but with temperatures of 30 degrees plus, a shower of rain would be most welcome.
Name: Rian Kennedy
Enterprise Details: Carbon neutral farming. Stabiliser and Angus breeder.
Grass was cut. We took advantage of the great weather and took the first cut of silage. We opted for pit silage for the first time in about 25 years on our farm. This was mainly down to the fact of us having a diet feeder. Last year, we bought a Keenan 320 Mech Fibre diet feeder for fattening cattle. It was a great investment but very awkward having to chop up bales every time we wanted to make a mix. So, for labour purposes, we chose pit silage this year. 35-acres of grass was put into it and it was a tough job having to cover it in the heat! All the cows and calves were bolused during the week for copper, as the ground on the put farm in Kilasser is high in Molybdenum. The Stabiliser bull was let out to pick up on any cow that has been missed by first-round A.I. and the Angus bull has been let out to the Angus cows.
We sold 5 out of 11 of our half-bred Stabiliser yearling bulls - they were killed at 15 and 16-months-old, with a K.O percentage of 56% on average. We were happy with how they did and look forward to the cheque in the post.
Slurry. Slurry is the only thing on the mind for the following days. It will be going out on the silage ground as soon as possible, as a second cut of 25 to 30-acres will be taken. Also, there is a bit of spraying and a bit of sowing to be done in Kilasser, with the Kale to be sown hopefully by the end of next week and plenty if rushes to be sprayed.
Name: Jamie Hayes
Enterprise: Suckler cows and finishing all progeny.
- Suckler cows: 51;
- Cows calved: 51;
- Maiden heifers: 10;
- Yearlings: 41;
- 24 months: 32;
- Stock bulls: 2.
Dare we I say it, we’re praying for rain. Grass growth has almost stopped and grass is very scarce at the moment. I have been spreading water on paddocks by night. This was done to wash in the fertiliser that had been spread as it was just sitting on the ground - hopefully, it will kick-start growth again.
Fertiliser is continuing to be spread at a bag to the acre but we have switched to a fertiliser called sweet grass -this fertiliser is a nitrogen fertiliser and so should help pump grass. Even though grass supplies are tight, we baled a heavy paddock on Wednesday and it yielded 49 bales. If it comes to it we can always feed these bales.
Around 27-acres of hay was also made on the outside farm and on rented ground. This hay ground got 2 bags of Richland to the acre in April and thankfully with the great weather, it saved very quickly. This hay will be used for feeding the cows during the winter while they are dry.
The breeding season is coming to an end and the decision has been made to pull out the bulls on July, 5th.
A traditional hay meadow consisting of 12-acres will be cut on July, 1st, 2018 and saved for hay - that will then wrap up the hay here on our farm. Rain is forecast for next Wednesday, so hopefully, that will help with growth.
I will also be collecting a Wagyu heifer that I have purchased from Joe Des - this is a new venture for me and I’m learning more and more every day about the Wagyu breed.
Fertiliser will continue to be spread and if growth picks up, we will begin pre-mowing in front of the cows instead of topping after. The reason we choose pre-mowing is that the paddock is cleaned out a lot better afterwards and also the machinery doesn’t get destroyed in cow manure.
Name: Joe Desmond - West Ireland Wagyu
Enterprise: Cow and calf to finishing farm
Animals: 30 head mostly percentage Wagyu F1 – F3.
Bull: 100% Full-blood registered Wagyu + AI
Location: 2 units in North Galway between Tuam and Mountbellew
Unit 1 – heifer and calving unit – dry sheds & rough grazing
Unit 2 – trials and fattening pens plus Bull house 3-bay slats and silage ground
Despite the fantastic weather we've had this week, there wasn't a whole lot going on for me. Good quality hay is coming available and I've dropped a few bales in front of the fattening pens, so it's just a matter of forking it out and giving them their daily grain - a big change from the last six months of hardship and sourcing fodder.
There is great comfort with cattle at grass also. I've only two more cows to drop in early July and everything is going well in the cow and calf unit. There was a calf waiting for me Wednesday morning. The cow wasn't really showing much and only starting to bag up. I had her cover date noted and was expecting her to calf on the 18th at 283 days which is consistent for my Bull. But when that day passed I was thinking she must have been caught on the next cycle despite no record on the calendar so I left her in the paddock.
She calved 9 days "late" but at 291 days that's still a comparatively short gestation. There's great comfort in walking to the field and the calf is there all clean and sucked and looking at you. I do like to observe the calving but I don't like to interfere. One problem with easy calving is the bag sometimes doesn't break and there are only seconds before the healthy calf's first breathe is his last, so I normally put them in a calving pen shortly before calving just so I'm on hand if needed.
I keep the Bull separate and only bring in bulling females in order to keep track on his fertility. His straws are starting to sell and some of his calves are in the finishing pen so the next few months will be important to assess what his progeny carcass kill out like. He is already proven for passing on good female traits and I'm happy with the weight gain in the feed trials. But with Wagyu, it's all about marble score and if he delivers in that department I'll probably jump him again if his fertility remains high.
There is an option I'm considering to use his straws on Dairy cows and heifers. The F1 steers will be finished at 26-28 months on a long feed grain programme. The heifers will be kept and entered into a feeding programme so I can either finish or AI to a select Fullblood Wagyu -these can then be sold to farmers looking to fast track into percentage bred Wagyu. It took me about 5 or six years until I was producing F2's but if a farmer buys one of these in-calf heifers they'll be there in under 10 months. It wasn't what I was intending to do when I started but am finding the increase in interest is creating a demand that I wasn't expecting and it helps with cash flow as well.
At least, I have the groundwork done and actually enjoy dealing with young enthusiastic farmers that are open to new ideas and want to stick with farming.