A batch of eight cull cows were slaughtered from Tullamore Farm last week.

Of these, four had been identified for culling in spring – three of which (Tag nos 829, 1412 and 1545) were 10 years old or more and being first-cross dairy-bred types, feet and low hanging udders were becoming an issue, while the other cow (Tag no 1874), who was only a second-calver, injured her shoulder in the shed in spring, so was not put back to the bull.

The other four cows were scanned not in-calf. Two of these were rearing their second calf and, speaking to Shaun Diver, he was disappointed to lose them.

“One was a first-cross whitehead cow (Tag no 1885) which had two really nice calves, while the other was a homebred Angus-cross (Tag no 138), again a nice little breeder, so it was unfortunate to lose those two.”

The other two cows that were not in-calf had reared seven (Tag no 824) and five calves (Tag no 65) respectively, one of which was later in the calving season, so maybe had a shorter window of opportunity to go back in-calf.

Finishing period

These cows were the first to be weaned when it commenced to allow them time to gain some condition at grass prior to housing.

For the final few weeks, they were housed and fed silage and built up to 8kg/day of a finishing ration just to get them over the line.

Initially, Shaun had planned to slaughter six of the eight and feed on two more for a further period, but, reflecting on it, decided to let all eight off at the one time.

“Look, two of the cows could probably have taken another few weeks feeding, but, economically, it would have been very close to break even between the cost of feed going in and the extra few kilos of carcase. Cow price was decent and it just made more sense to let all off together.

"They still went quite well. The Limousin/Friesian had a carcase weight of 364kg and graded O+3- and the other one was a big block of a cow that could have carried another 20kg of carcase, but killed out 408kg and graded O+4-.”

Making room

The cow that had injured her shoulder in spring had the lightest carcase weight at 287kg, while the average weight was just shy of 360kg, coming to an average value of €1,361/head.

Having the cull cows moved on means there is sufficient room to bring in the in-calf heifers which, thanks to good ground conditions, have been left out grazing up to this point.

Commenting on this, Shaun said: “It has been a really good back end to the year here on Tullamore Farm. Being able to keep the in-calf heifers out has been a great saving on silage and they are happier and healthier out at grass up until now.

"Had the weather been poor, we would have had space to run them in on a dry floor shed, but now that the cows are gone they can go to the slatted shed for the next few months.”