On what was a very pleasant spring day in Kildare, a crowd of close to 100 people attended the second Teagasc/Irish Farmers Journal BETTER farm beef challenge spring event on Thursday.

The walk, which was hosted by suckler-to-steer and dairy-calf-to-beef farmer Ricky Milligan, covered a broad range of topics focusing on key management factors for this spring.

Disappearing before my eyes

The first stand on the day was presented by BETTER farm adviser Tommy Cox, who gave an in-depth breakdown of the farm’s profit targets for the next three years (Table 1). Given the free-draining nature of the soil on the farm, the drought of 2018 resulted in significantly higher-than-normal expenditure on fertiliser, fodder and concentrates.

Listen to "Ricky Milligan on his farm in Kildare" on Spreaker.

“I think the most stressful time of 2018 was when I looked out on to the silage ground that had been fertilised and I realised the grass was almost disappearing before my eyes,” Ricky reflected.

Other stands on the day featured technical advice in the areas of growing silage crops, optimising soil nutrition, managing grassland weeds and preparing for breeding.


At the stand on dairy calf-to-beef systems, BETTER farm adviser John Greaney went through the key considerations for farmers when it comes to purchasing dairy calves this spring, particularly in relation to price.

A calf-rearing budget for Ricky Milligan’s farm in 2018 was also presented (Table 2). “The plan is to certainly have calves on the farm but so far this year I’ve held off on buying any because of price,” said Ricky.

For more, see next Thursday’s Irish Farmers Journal and listen to the podcast above.