Dairy Calf-to-beef

Given the tight margins in beef farming, it has never been more important to ensure all animals are putting on weight if you are incurring costs feeding them.

There have been some new ventures down the dairy beef route, and these weanlings need minding over the next few months to make sure they hit target weights.

Keeping these animals for long store periods will rise costs and reduce your margin. Dairy beef weanling bulls should be coming in at around 250kg, with heifers at 225kg.

Aiming for a 100 day winter and a target weight gain of .7kg/day, animals should be turning back out at 300-320kg next spring. The importance of maximising grass in the diet of these animals cannot be over emphasised.

Supplementing with concentrates will erode into the small margin that there is in finishing these animals. Putting plans in place now for getting these weanlings out next spring is important, and unless you have fields closed off at this stage, early turnout won’t be taking place on your farm in 2023.

Make sure that all dosing is up-to-date for fluke and worms. If there have been pneumonia issues in the past, then vaccination should be looked at – ideally before housing, but it’s not too late if already housed.

These weanlings should be fed the best quality silage on the farm, along with a 14% protein ration with good ingredients like barley, maize distillers or beet pulp. They should be fed 2kg/head/day for the next two months.

Meal is expensive but below target weight gain and stunted animals are a lot more expensive in the long run.

Aim to reduce meal feeding in late January in advance of turnout in February/March to achieve some compensatory growth. Make sure they have adequate space to lie and feed.


Early supplementation of minerals to spring calving suckler cows helps avoid any issues around calving. If feeding powder minerals make sure all cows have access to feed space.

Feeding half rate twice a day can ensure that all cows are getting enough. A pre-calving mineral should have trace elements of 0% calcium and roughly; 4% phosphorus, 13% sodium and 17% magnesium.

It should also have all the major trace elements including Vitamin E. Dry cow minerals should be fed for 6-8 weeks out from calving, so late January calving cows should be supplemented from now on.

Boluses are an equally good way of getting minerals into cows. Just make sure heavy cows are being dosed accordingly, some cows may need two boluses to cover them.

Tullamore Farm

Tullamore Farm will hold a sustainability open day on Thursday 24 November from 11am-1pm. We will discuss areas like the winter feeding plan on Tullamore Farm, the winter health plan and what dosing is being carried out.

We’ll look at this year’s silage quality results and go through weight performance on the farm. We will also discuss how the red clover and multispecies swards are performing and there will be a hedge planting demonstration by Siobhán Walsh. You can register for the event at www.ifj.ie/footprints.