“It’s all about doing the simple things well,” insisted Teagasc beef specialist Aidan Murray at Tuesday’s Irish Grassland Association (IGA) farm walk on the farm of Chris McCarthy in Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath.
McCarthy farms 46 sucklers on 28ha, bringing all males through to under-16-month bull beef and selling heifers as weanlings.
The part-time farmer generates more than twice the income of the average suckler farmer, as reported in the Teagasc National Farm Survey report this week.
Tuesday’s farm walk demonstrated to the 200 attendees the financial and animal performance on the farm and the impact of grassland management, soil fertility, labour efficiency and animal health.
McCarthy’s under-16-month bulls impressed visiting farmers, averaging 476kg carcase weght in 2022. The Westmeath farmer put the weight performance down to a good red Limousin cow and a Charolais bull.
Jimmy Madigan, Co Kilkenny, sucklers to finishing
“I’m currently running 100 sucklers which are 50-50 autumn-spring calving. The bulls are finished under 16 months, with the heifers finished at 19-22 months. I have joined the new SCEP as I am meeting the requirements already and I will also join the new BEEP scheme that was announced this week
“I feel it is early for factories to be pulling prices but we have to remember that beef price remained good throughout the spring. I’m heading towards a grass shortage within the next week if growth doesn’t improve where I will be forced to start grazing my second cut.”
Fergal Curtin, Co Cavan, sucklers
“The farm consists of 18 suckler cows with the weanlings being sold in Cavan mart in February and March. I decided to join the new SCEP scheme while also being in ACRES and I will sign up to the new BEEP scheme on the back of the last round of the scheme being very successful.
“The hot spell of weather hasn’t posed any major setback on my farm with lots of grass ahead of the cattle, although rain is needed to push on grass growth after first cut.”
Gerry Connellan, Co Kildare, sucklers
“I have 53 sucklers which I intend to reduce to 48 in order to meet the nitrates regulations. The cattle are predominately Limousins, with some Simmentals along with two Charolais stock bulls.
“I use a Limousin bull to breed my replacements. I have been selling my weanlings in Elphin for many years where they never fail to achieve top prices, with this year being no exception.
“Heavy rainfall last night has been welcomed by many in my area in order to get slurry on silage ground and get grass growing again.”
John Smyth, Co Cavan, sucklers
“I am mainly pedigree Limousin along with a three-quarter-bred Limousin sired with a Charolais bull, 20 cows in total. The bulls are sold at nine months while the heifers are sold at 12 months for breeding.
“We serve AI every three years with a Limousin bull to breed our own replacements off the pedigree cattle.
“SCEP was an easy decision for me as I have been genotyping our cattle anyway which has resulted in increased reliability among our cattle. Drought conditions have not shone through on my land as of yet as I farm mainly clay soils on a paddock system with good covers ahead.”
“I’m conscious when I’m selling animals that the next person needs to make a few pound on them as well or they won’t be back the next year” – farmer Chris McCarthy.
“It’s important when you’re buying a bull that he’s not too fat. A bull that is losing condition and losing weight in the first six weeks of the breeding season won’t have good fertility” - vet Eoin Ryan.
“Like any high performing farm, it’s the sum of everything that makes this farm profitable - the cows, paddocks, weight gains, time management. It’s all about doing the simple things well” - Aidan Murray, Teagasc.