Garreth McCormack farms just under 35ha on the outskirts of Bailieborough in Co Cavan. He is also the county’s representative in the Teagasc/Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm beef challenge.

Because Garreth works full-time off farm, the system is kept as straightforward as possible. The target number of suckler cows on the farm is 50, all calving in the spring. The breeding is all continental with Salers being the dominant breed.

The farm operates an under 16-month bull beef system. The 2018 spring-born bulls will be drafted for slaughter over the next month as live weights climb over the 700kg mark.

Heifers are either kept within the herd as replacements or sold live if deemed surplus to requirements.


In 2018, Garreth made the decision to go 100% AI. Considering he holds down a full-time job, heat detecting, bringing in cows and performing DIY AI is impressive. What is all the more impressive is the success he had with 100% AI in the first year – a 98% in-calf rate after 12 weeks of breeding.

Last week, I visited Gareth where calving for 2019 had just finished up. Without doubt, the quality of calves on the ground is extremely high.

A wide range of sires were used encapsulating an extensive range of breeds. Simmental bulls included SI4383 and APZ; Limousin bulls were EBY and CWI; Salers sires were SA4059, SA2189, BHU and ZLA and Charolais bulls were LKK and CSQ.

2019 breeding

Breeding for 2019 has resumed once again and, unsurprisingly, AI is the only method that will be used again. From 50 cows last year, 46 will be bred this season with the other four for culling. After just 10 days, 30 cows have been submitted for AI.

Heat detection in this group of cows is being aided by Moocall Heat. The system proved hugely successful on the farm last year and Garreth said it was a no-brainer to avail of the product again this time around.

Despite the fact that the technology sends a text to the user’s phone when a cow is in heat, Garreth explained that frequent visual monitoring is important too to achieve very high breeding results.

The teaser bull fitted with the Moocall heat bull collar. The cow has a Moocall heat tag.

Out of 18 yearling heifers, Garreth plans to breed 13. So far, these are being heat detected visually and subsequently receive AI. About one-third have been submitted for insemination so far. With the remaining heifers, Garreth is considering implementing a synchronisation programme followed by fixed-time AI.


After a stop-start spring in terms of grazing, grass growth on the farm has really jumped ahead and surpluses are beginning to appear. In this week’s paper, we take a look at how measuring is making a world of difference to grassland management.

Read the article in print or online this Thursday.