All good things come to an end and it is no different on Tullamore Farm, where grazing 2021 is coming to a close, at least for the cattle.

At this stage, just the 19 in-calf heifers remain at grass and they too will be heading for the shed in the coming week.

Before they can go inside, farm manager Shaun Diver has seven bullocks to sell which are going to be sold live in the mart next week. These were the latest born calves from 2020 that were not going to be up to sufficient weight to hit an under 16-month bull beef system. They are currently between 19 and 20 months old and are averaging around the 550kg mark.

Alongside these bullocks are the cull cows, of which there are eight currently being fed. Six of these are ready for slaughter at this stage, with two older cows still needing more feeding.

Great shape

Shaun commented: “Most of the cows were in great shape coming into the house for winter. The two that will be left behind are older cows and first cross-dairy types, so they are naturally that bit thinner. I will feed them on for another few weeks, but once they are warmed up I will send them to the factory at that stage. You could feed those older-type dairy-cross cows for a lot longer to try and get them into significant flesh, but the return wouldn’t be in it - I need the space for the heifers.”

The cull cows are currently on 9kg of a high-maize finishing ration, fed twice a day and receive second-cut silage, while the bullocks are currently getting 4kg of the same ration and good-quality second-cut silage.

Cows are being fed ad-lib second-cut silage.

Silage results

The first-cut silage test indicated a DMD of 74% and a protein level of 12.8%, while the sample from the second-cut silage has been sent off, but no results are back just yet.

Overall, Shaun is happy with how it is feeding.

“It has a lovely smell off it and it is quite dry – drier than we would normally see silage here. Conditions at harvest were very good.”

Weanlings

The weanlings are housed and settled with the bulls, now on 3kg/day of a 16% ration while the heifers are getting 1.5kg/day. Last week, Shaun clipped all the bulls’ backs and tails and they were weighed at the same time. They had an average weight of 360kg, a daily liveweight gain of just over 1.3kg/day from birth to housing.

“Usually, the weanlings stall slightly around weaning and housing, but this year, they seem to be motoring on with no setbacks at all. The housing weights are almost 30kg ahead of this time last year and we have fed a lot less creep feed this year compared to 2020.

“With the dry conditions last summer, we introduced creep feed to the bulls in late July and continued it right through to weaning. This year, we were offering it at grass from late September, but even at that point they didn’t seem overly bothered about coming to eat meal. Cows were in great condition and milking well and there was a huge amount of grass on the farm, which was obviously doing the trick.”

Mule ewes out with a Suffolk ram on Tullamore farm.

Sheep

Breeding continues for the sheep, with Shaun saying that “going around the groups of ewes this week, everything seems to be raddled at this stage. There are a few ewe lambs still to be tipped, but things are progressing nicely.”