The drafting of young bulls continues on Tullamore Farm, with 18 animals slaughtered so far across two slaughter dates.

While beef prices are high and the cheque that is coming back from the factory looks good, it is still a tight margin system given the price and amount of meal that is involved.

Over their lifetime these bulls will consume a total of 1.6t of concentrate. Therefore, it is important to keep a close eye on performance, especially towards the end of the system.

Daily feed costs

Currently the bulls are eating just shy of 12kg/day on average. When they were first introduced to the 12% protein finishing ration in mid-March it was arriving on the farm at a cost of €360/t.

At this stage it is coming in at €395/t, which is still quite a good feed price given where feed costs currently are.

However, it means that the bulls are eating €4.70/day in meal alone. Factor in a cost of a small bit of roughage in the form of straw to keep the gut right, and it brings the total diet cost up to almost €5/day.

So far this year, beef price for the bulls has averaged €5.71/kg. Assuming 75% of every kilo of live weight gain they currently achieve is going to carcase weight, bulls need to be gaining in excess of 1.5kg/day liveweight in order to cover feed costs alone.

This is why frequent weighing is necessary at this point of the system. Bulls should be weighed every three weeks at least.


Performance for the last weighing on Tullamore Farm put the average daily gain in excess of 1.6kg/day. However, after speaking to farm manager Shaun Diver, he said that once performance dips below the 1.5kg/day mark, it will be time to move the bulls on.

The only other variable that needs to be carefully considered is the level of finish and fat cover of the animal.

Of the 18 bulls slaughtered to date, there have been three 2+, nine 3- and six 3= fat scores. Carcase weights have averaged 388kg at 14.5 months of age, over a range of 337kg to 438kg.

In terms of grade, there have been six R=, five R+, six U- and one U= for conformation. Bulls have been drafted at an average liveweight of 688kg meaning an average killout percentage of 56.4%.

In terms of carcase value, it means the average carcase to date has come into €2,220/head ranging from €1,780 up to €2,540.

Another draft

Shaun is planning another draft in the coming week which should see another six to eight bulls drafted.

“I am happy with the bulls so far this year, but both performance and beef price need to remain strong over the coming weeks to see the rest of them through.”, he said.

“The finishing ration since March was 34% barley, 26.5% maize 18% beet pulp, 7% beans 6% soya bean meal plus 6.5% molasses and minerals. In the last couple of deliveries we have increased the maize percentage slightly to help with getting fat scores over the line.

“If bulls start to slow down I will be quick to draft them if fat cover is sufficient.”

Get set for the Tullamore Farm Open Day

On Tuesday 26 July Tullamore Farm will host a national open day with an overview of the entire farm system and performance of both the beef and sheep enterprises and how the farm system has evolved since its inception in 2017.

Financial performance to breeding and genetics, grassland management, soil health and fertility, as well as steps the farm is taking to enhance its overall sustainability, will all be on show.

The day will run from 10:30am to 5pm. For enquires email The farm’s eircode is R35AT81. We look forward to seeing you there.