The Irish Farmers Journal’s recently-established 200-acre mixed grazing suckler and sheep demonstration farm will open its gates to the public for the first time on Tuesday 25 July, at 1pm-7pm.
Farm tours will take place at regular half hour intervals during the day, and farmers will get to see the farm and the livestock that have been purchased for the project.
Farmers attending will see how the farm aims to run an efficient mixed-grazing system, by implementing technologies like grassland management, breeding and animal health practices on the farm.
All cows and calves will be on display on the day with performance figures.
A selection of sheep will also be on demonstration.
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed will officially launch the event at 4pm, followed by six short demos in the seated demonstration arena, located in the yard.
The aim of the open day is to demonstrate some simple changes that drystock farmers can make to their farm/business to become more profitable.
How to get there
The farm is located just outside Tullamore, Co Offaly, quite close to the site of the National Ploughing Championships in 2017.
The open day will be signposted from all major routes around Tullamore and will be accessed on the day via Mucklagh village. The event eircode is R35AT81.
Parking is free and the farm tour will take approximately two to two-and-a-half hours.
Admission is free and everyone is welcome. Catering facilities will be provided in the yard area on the day.
What’s been happening on the farm?
The official start date for the lease was 1 January and Ger O Dwyer has been employed as full-time farm manager.
For the project, 112 cows have been purchased and calved last February, March and April. As well as those, 15 replacement heifers have also been purchased and bred in May.
A huge amount of work has taken place on the farm in relation to cleaning existing drains, fencing, the water pipe and drinker installation, roadway construction and reseeding.
A number of amendments have been made to sheds to facilitate calving.
Calving went well, with one loss out of 112 calvings. Conception rate to first service has been good, at 65%. An infertile bull has upset the breeding season a little, but was observed early and hopefully the impact will be minimum.
What to see?
1. The finances and projected outputs
The plan for the farm will be presented, including the beef and sheep systems operated, and the projected stocking rates and output.
The plan is to produce under 16-month bull beef and high index replacement heifers for sale. The sheep system will be mid-season lamb production. A 60 dairy calf-to-beef system was established this year.
The farm plan, including the physical and financial targets, will be explained. The farm has a target of €1,800 gross margin when it is fully stocked and operational by year end.
2. Soil fertility and grassland management
The farm is stocked at about 2.7LU/ha, placing a huge demand on grass, especially in spring.
See what decisions and changes to infrastructure have been made to the farm since the start of the project, and learn how the farm aims to improve soil fertility.
A large proportion of the farm has been reseeded since the start of the project with different grass varieties and using different methods.
The farm has been divided into over 40 permanent grazing divisions, with further scope to divide these again into 80 grazing divisions.
See how paddocks and roadways have been designed and where drinking troughs have been positioned to facilitate maximum grazing efficiency.
The fertiliser plan for the farm will be explained, including the plan for autumn grazing to ensure early turnout is achieved in spring 2018.
3. Genetics and breeding management
Every cow rearing a calf with good weight for age is the backbone of the system. Hear about how AI and stock bulls are being used in a 120-cow herd and why easy calving, high replacement index sires are being used on the herd.
The replacement index of the herd is high at €115, with cows strong on milk and fertility traits.
The 2017 breeding season will be explained, including how the farm has dealt with an infertile stock bull. The replacement policy will be explained and how these animals will be sourced in the future.
4. Proposed sheep system and mixed grazing management
A mid-season lambing ewe flock will be established, with lambing taking place after mid-March to facilitate the busy calving period.
The system will be kept as simple as possible, with all replacements bought in and all progeny sold. Mule ewes will be purchased at the outset, with the emphasis on achieving a medium to high litter size.
This, along with a high stocking rate, is a critical component of the sheep system on Tullamore farm. Stock will be mixed grazed using a variety of different fencing methods.
Live seated demonstration
4pm: Official launch by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.
4pm-7pm: Breeding demonstration in association with ICBF, with live display of cows and calves.
4pm-7pm: Health and safety demo, in association with Farm Relief Services.
4.30pm: The weanling export market – what type and where to? In association with Bord Bia.
5pm: Farm succession and tax planning, in association with IFAC.
5.30pm: Five top tips for a healthy herd/flock, in association with Animal Health Ireland.
6pm: Calving the cow and care of the calf: live demo, in association with Donal Lynch, vet.
6.30pm: Dairy calf-to-beef demo, with Aidan Brennan.
7pm: Breeding profitable sheep demo, with Darren Carty.