Over 200 people attended Thursday afternoon’s Teagasc/Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm Beef Challenge summer open day on the farm of Joseph and Harry Lalor – the father and son duo representing Co Laois in the BETTER Farm Beef Challenge.

Two Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) Knowledge Transfer-approved walks took place at 2pm and 5pm on the Lalor's 121ha holding and drew in crowds of around 100 people each


At the first stand on the day, Harry was joined by his Teagasc BETTER Farm adviser John Greaney and new BETTER Farm Beef Challenge programme manager Martina Harrington from Teagasc.

Here, the main point of discussion was the farm’s system, the progress that has been made since the beginning of the programme and the targets for when the programme concludes. Table 1 gives a full breakdown of performance projections.

Alternative forage

Arable silage, kale and redstart will make up some of the Lalor's fodder requirements. Present on the alternative forage stand was Teagasc crops specialist Shay Phelan.

Figures presented on the day showed that without growing alternative forage, the Lalors would only be able to make half of their winter feed requirements. However, including 5ac of kale, 11ac of arable silage and 10ac of redstart, reserves will meet 92% of requirements – including a four-to-six week buffer.

Breeding and grass

On the third stand, BETTER Farm adviser Tommy Cox from Teagasc was on hand to talk about grassland management on the farm. He said that “the figures show every extra tonne of grass grown per hectare is worth €105. In 2018, the Lalors grew 2.5t DM/ha more grass than in 2017”.

He also went through the key points on good grazing infrastructure including paddock sizing and water trough positioning and the benefits they can generate in terms of management and animal performance.

On the final stand, Harry and Joe’s local Teagasc adviser Peter Doolan had an in-depth discussion with Harry about the breeding policy on the farm.

“The main cow type on the farm would be Salers X Limousin cows. Some dairy-bred females are also brought in,” Harry explained. “We run three stock bulls – a Charolais, a Saler and a Limousin,” he added.

Doolan also highlighted some impressive breeding performance figures from the farm, including an overall replacement index of €107 and a weaning efficiency figure of 40% in 2018.

Carbon footprint

The fourth stand on the day centred on the LIFE BEEF CARBON project. Presented by with Donal O’Brien and Jonathan Herron of Teagasc, discussion involved a background of the project, the carbon footprint of the Lalor farm and a live fertiliser demonstration.

To learn about the LIFE BEEF CARBON project, see this week’s Irish Farmers Journal in print or online. For the full discussion on the carbon footprint stand, stay tuned to the Irish Farmers Journal online net week.