I farm: “42ha of grassland outside Kilkeel, Co Down. I run 15 spring calving Limousin cows, 90 breeding ewes and a dairy bred calves.

Family: “I am married to Jo-Ann who helps out and has a great interest in the sheep side of the farm.”

Dairy calves: “I reduced suckler cows from 40 back to 15 last year with a major cull for temperament and poor performance. With less cows, I bought in 21 dairy bred heifer calves last autumn, mostly Angus, Limousin and Blue cross animals. They have made great use of grass this year and I am pleased with their performance. The best of these heifers will be kept as suckler replacements and the remainder probably sold in-calf. My plan is to buy in another 20 to 25 heifer calves this autumn and do the same thing.”

Calf rearing: “I buy calves direct from two local dairy farms. Calves are two to three weeks old when purchased. The first of this year’s calves are now on farm with four Blue cross heifers just purchased.”

Sucklers: “I still like the suckler cows and they have a place on my farm. Cows are Limousin and crossed back to a Limousin stock bull. Calves will be weaned and wintered on farm.”

Tupping sheep: “The breeding season for the sheep is almost over. Rams went out to the ewes on 7 August and will be pulled out in two weeks’ time, giving a breeding season of six weeks. Ewes will start lambing around New Year’s Eve. I run a New Zealand Suffolk and a Charollais ram with ewes and a Belclare ram with hoggets.”

Spring-calving cows and calves on Gerard Donnan's farm.

Silage and closing up paddocks: “Third cut silage finished up at the weekend with 12 acres mowed on Thursday and baled on Saturday. The plan is to start closing off paddocks from next week to save grass for lambing time. Paddocks will be grazed tight, then get slurry before closing up.”

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