Cows numbers have been on the rise on Paul Jamison’s farm near Dromore, Co Down, in recent years.

In 2017, Paul had 55 suckler cows, but 80 cows and heifers were out to the bull this summer.

At a Better Beef Farm Challenge NI walk on his farm on Thursday evening, Paul explained that his target herd size is 75 cows, which equates to an overall stocking rate of 2.67 CE/ha.

Since joining the programme two years ago, Paul has been improving soil fertility, reseeding paddocks and managing grass more effectively through paddock grazing and weekly measuring. This has led to more grass being grown on the farm and has allowed stocking rate to increase.

“Its been a good grass year for us. Last year was very dry and the year before was very wet. Every year is different. I am happy enough at 75 cows,” he said.

More than 75 head will be put to the bull each year to allow for empties and other problem cows that have to be culled later in the year, visitors to the farm were told.

All male progeny on the Jamison farm are finished in a bull beef system and heifers are either finished or kept for replacements.

Angus and Stabiliser genetics have been introduced to improve maternal traits in what used to be mainly a purebred Limousin herd.

“We had bred ourselves out of milk. Calves were performing, but it was from the meal bucket,” Paul told visitors to his farm.

A Simmental bull was also bought last year, but unfortunately his hamstring broke during breeding and he only managed to serve seven out of 35 cows.

A Limousin bull still runs on the farm and is put to later calving cows (April and May) where replacement heifers will not be selected from.

Paul is aiming to have a tight spring calving profile, with 80% calved in six weeks and the whole herd finished up in a nine-week period from early March to mid-May.

Read more from the event in next week’s northern edition of the Irish Farmers Journal and at

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