Shane Moore has a mixed sheep and beef enterprise in Athleague, Co Roscommon.
The total land area is 110 acres. Sixty acres is dry ground and 20 acres is wetter but it is well suited to the sheep. Thirty acres of the home platform is known as the Turlough and, each year, this has recurrent ground water flooding.
For this reason, it is protected and no fertiliser can be spread there. The farm is fragmented with four separate blocks ranging from 5km to 8km away from the home platform.
In 2021, 156 ewes and 40 ewe lambs were left off with the ram. A further 30 ewe lambs were kept for replacements next year.
The target for the last number of years has been to get to 200 ewes. In early December, the last 30 of the 2021 ram lambs were sold.
In the past, all ewes were predominantly Belclare but now the ewes are Belclare and New Zealand Suffolk cross for maternal traits.
Texel and Charollais rams are used for terminal traits. With a high lambing rate of above two lambs per ewe, Shane expects a replacement rate of 25% each year once he gets to 200 ewes.
The beef enterprise has changed over the last number of months.
In the past, Shane had 12 suckler cows and their calves were sold as weanlings.
In November 2021, the cows were sold and more weanlings were bought. There are now 20 continental weanlings. The plan with these is to keep the stores.
Grass is a key driver of the system. In 2021, 11.5tDM/ha was grown with 102kg N/ha and six grazings achieved per paddock. The target pre-grazing cover is 900kg to 1,500kg DM/ha.
The whole farm was reseeded between eight and 10 years ago. At the time, clover was included in the seed mixes and there is some clover still present in a number of paddocks.
When reseeding under-performing paddocks in the coming year, Shane will be including clover.
Aidan Maguire is running a dairy calf-to-beef system near Navan in Co Meath, alongside a farm contracting service.
He joined the Teagasc Greenacres programme in 2018 and since then the farm has turned inside out.
He has seen net margin go from €-83/ha in 2018 to €980/ha now. He now buys calves from just three farmers and takes a mix of Hereford, Angus and Holstein Friesian calves.
In terms of animal performance, he says the Friesians will win every time because he can buy them cheaper and sell them for the same price or even better.
Average carcase weight is 297kg with the Friesians averaging 0+ or 0=.
All cattle are finished at under-24 months with the heifers finished at 18 or 19 months of age off grass.
Grassland management is superb and to make the best use of this grass, Aidan turns the cattle out in early February. This early turnout is usually just for a few hours per day depending on the weather.
His objective here is to get the first round grazed by 7 April and then start the second rotation. This plan saves silage and improves liveweight gain in the cattle as not only are they consuming higher-quality feed in the first round, but also in subsequent rotations.
There is some extra work involved in this but Aidan says it’s well worth it.
The decision is made in the morning as to whether he can let them out. He says it’s not about filling the cattle at grass, it’s about getting through the area.
He’s currently in the process of building a new central farm roadway which will realign the existing road.
The paddocks are fenced with permanent wires and a water system is installed.
Calves are run in two groups over the summer, one heavier and one lighter group with males and females run together. By the time the grass starts to take off in April, he says the cattle are bombing it. He buys around 100 calves per year on the 48ha farm.