Sean has been one of the standout participants in the programme from a stock performance point of view. He runs 40 spring- and 20 autumn-calving cows on 140 acres, split in two blocks near Tulla.

With a political focus on carbon emissions from the beef sector inevitable in the coming years, the BETTER farm programme teamed up with ICBF to tackle the issue. Emissions per kilo of suckler beef are generally quite high relative to other meat categories, as we have to carry a cow and the average animal is slaughtered well into its third year in Ireland.

Age at slaughter

However, by focusing on a younger age at slaughter and optimising cow type and fertility, the improvements we can make to these numbers are huge. Weaning efficiency is defined as the portion of a cow's own weight she has produced as a 200-day-old calf and a high figure here is one way of pulling down lifetime emissions/kg of beef.

In 2017, Sean’s spring cows averaged a weaning efficiency of 50%, by far the best performance in the programme. From birth to 200 days, his calves grew at a rate of 1.38kg/day. This led to a 200-day weight of 321kg. Sean’s average cow weighed 622kg. His cows are a mixture of continental genetics.

In terms of beef output, he maintained his position at the top when it came to weight for age in finished steers last year. His cattle averaged 411kg of carcase weight at 21 months of age.

Sean attributes much of his positive stock performance to good cow selection, AI breeding and a Charolais stock bull by CF52 which is unfortunately marked for culling this year having become hurt. He has just completed construction of a new silage slab with pit walls and is well into his breeding season. He has taken big precautions this year after experiencing stock bull problems last year.

Sean also achieved phenomenal performance with his first batch of 2017-born slaughter bulls in recent weeks. For more, watch the video and pick up your copy of the Irish Farmers Journal this Thursday.

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