Teagasc/Irish Farmers Journal BETTER farm beef challenge participant Glen McDermott is farming 41ha of variable ground just outside Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo.

The land is split into two blocks in close proximity to each other. There is also a yard on each.

Last year, a further 16ha were also secured under a long-term lease.

The plan is to run an under-16-month bull-beef system and a heifer-beef system with surplus females that are not retained for breeding.

Last spring, 53 cows were bred. This has increased to 66 this breeding season and the ultimate goal is to run a herd of around 80 suckler cows.


Since the beginning of the programme, Glen has firmly bought into two key areas of suckler farm improvement – grass and breeding.

On the grass front, soil fertility, spraying, reseeding and even reclaiming newly leased ground have been ongoing processes with very high success rates.

Ground is quickly reaching its full grass-growing potential and to compliment this, paddocks, a water system and roadways have been developed simultaneously.

An under-16-month bull-beef system and breeding replacement heifers for calving at 24 months requires top-quality suckler genetics.

Over the last number of years, the use of AI has been growing steadily.

A combination of maternal and terminal sires are used each season, with Simmental, Charolais and Limousin being the main breeds used.

To quickly build numbers, some maiden heifers were bought in at the start of the year and Glen ensured that these too were four- or five-star animals.

For more information, see this week’s Irish Farmers Journal in print or online or watch the video above.