The value of good farm roadways was evident at the Dairy Beef 500 farm walk on the farm of James O’Sullivan in Myross, Co Cork, on Tuesday.

Not only did they allow James to get his yearling heifers out to grass for 20 days so far in February, they doubled up as car parking facilities as the wet month meant on-field parking was not an option.

There was a big turnout at the walk. \ Andy Gibson

James farms 31ha in west Cork - a 10ha block near Leap with the remaining 21ha at Myross. He operates a dairy calf-to-beef system, with a target of finishing all stock before their second winter.

Host farmer James O'Sullivan. \ Andy Gibson

He works off farm as an AI man and this has helped him source calves. He now buys his calves from four different farmers and his preference is for early maturing breeds.

James has managed to get a group of yearling heifers out to grass for 20 days so far in February. \ Andy Gibson

Like all farmers, he found the grazing season in 2023 challenging and was disappointed with his final carcase weights, which were behind his desired targets of 260kg for heifers and 310kg for bullocks.

Last year, the heifers averaged 244kg, with an average grade of O= 3+, while the bullocks had an average carcase of 295kg and graded O=3=.

Not only did the bad weather result in carcase weights being back, the older stock had to be housed before finishing and, as a result, put a bigger dent in his silage stocks. His net margin excluding subsidies in 2023 was €552/ha.

The crowd makes its way between boards. \ Andy Gibson

When purchasing the calves, his preference is for a calf around three weeks of age, but will take slightly younger, as he knows the farms they are coming from.

There was a super turnout at the event and one attendee remarked that it was great to see younger faces outnumber older farmers.

As locations go, it’s difficult to get much further south than this farm that is on the western side of Myross Island, a short distance from Union Hall.

Irish Farmers Journal hats were popular at the event. \ Andy Gibson

The location and mild winter meant there was super grass covers across the farm, but ground conditions were too wet to allow full-time grazing.

James’s excellent infrastructure meant he has been able to get a group of 30 yearling heifers with an average weight of 295kg out to grass this month.

By practising on-off grazing and bringing cattle in when weather is bad meant, with two days in the month to go, he had 29% of his farm grazed by the end of February.

The farm is situated on the edge of the Atlantic. \ Andy Gibson

The roadways were created from rock on the farm, with a gravel topping put on top.

Adviser from the Teagasc Dairy Beef 500 programme Fergal Maguire said that each additional day at grass was worth €2/LU.

More details on the event will be available in next week's Irish Farmers Journal.