Newford Farm, the suckler-to-beef demonstration herd located in Athenry, Co Galway, weighed the 2022-born progeny on 1 June.

Analysis of weights carried out by Michael Fagan of Teagasc shows the batch of 62 bull calves gaining an average of 1.45kg per day since birth.

The average birthweight of calves was 44kg, with the average liveweight at 3.5 months of age recorded at 196kg.

The average daily gain of the smaller number of 25 heifer calves was recorded at 1.4kg/day.

As expected, heifer calves had a lower average birthweight of 38kg, while the average weight of calves at a similar age of 3.5 months was recorded at 191kg.

This Charolais-cross calved sired by Knockmoyle Loki (CH4159) was born on 11 February to a third-calf Limousin-cross cow. He weighed 225kg, having gained 1.65kg since birth.

The calves also received treatment for worms on 1 June. Cows and calves are being grazed in two batches on the Newford block with bull and heifer calves mixed.

Breeding update

Jerry O’Brien of Newford Farm reports that repeat breeding activity has been relatively quiet.

Breeding started on 20 April and at the end of the second breeding cycle, there were 17 cows inseminated twice. This is a repeat rate of about 20%, which is in line with previous years.

This Meelickaduff Lamborghini-sired (LM4330) Limousin bull calf was born 28 February to a fifth-calf Hereford-cross cow. Weighing 198kg, he gained 1.63kg since birth.

Teaser bulls continue to run with cows to pick up any heats, with a handful of cows inseminated since the last analysis of breeding figures was carried out on 4 June.

Heat detection continues to take place, with a mixture of vasectomised bulls fitted with Moocall heat detection technology and a chin ball, tail paint on cows and regular monitoring of cows.

Maiden heifers

The six-week breeding season in the batch of 23 maiden heifers also started on 20 April and finished on 1 June.

All 23 heifers were inseminated in the first breeding cycle, with nine heifers inseminated thereafter. Supervision for heat detection remains in place to identify early signs of any issues.

Heifer performance

Michael Fagan also reports that 2021-born heifers were weighed on 2 June. The batch of 37 heifers recorded an average liveweight of 492kg at 15 months of age.

This Charolais-cross calf sired by the bull Hideal (HJD) weighed 234kg after gaining 1.71kg/day since birth. The calf is the ninth his dam has delivered.

The average daily gain since turnout on 20 January (133 days) was recorded at 0.62kg/day, with lifetime performance currently running at 0.98kg/day since birth.

Heifers range in liveweight from 423kg to 584kg.

Michael notes that the top 10 heifers are weighing an average of 523kg (502kg to 584kg), while the bottom 10 heifers are weighing 452kg. These heifers are 0.5 months younger than the average of the batch.

The oldest heifer calf born on 27 January is this Belgian Blue calf sired by Kilmore Gle (KZG). She weighed 177kg (ADG of 1.11/kg) and this is her dam's seventh calf.

It is planned to start drafting heifers for slaughter off grass at the end of the month.

The production system has been tweaked slightly to try to lower the average slaughter age of heifers to in the region of 16 months. Heifers will be picked on a combination of liveweight and fat score.

Reduce pressure on grass

The farm is hoping that moving heifers off the farm at a younger age will reduce pressure on grass supplies as the year progresses and in turn reduce the volume of fertiliser applied.

At present, 10 units of protected urea are being applied after each grazing to underpin grass growth and quality.

This Charolais calf sired by Lapon (CH4321) and born on 13 February to a third calf Angus-cross cow weighed 211kg (1.63kg / day).

Growth rates have slowed of late, with the Newford block recording growth of 58kg DM/ha, while demand is running at 49kg DM/ha.

Growth on Tuohy’s land block has dropped to 44kg and is running behind demand of 48kg DM/ha.

Days grazing ahead is running at 11 days ahead. Meanwhile, growth of 28kg DM/ha on the Gort na Habhainn land block is exceeding demand of just 16kg DM/ha, with this block earmarked as providing a reprieve to grass demand if required on the other grazing blocks.

Farm open day

Newford Farm is planning to host a farm open day on 13 September 2022.

All aspects of physical and financial performance will be presented on the day and the performance of heifers will also provide an in-depth discussion on the day.