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CAFRE

At long last farms walks resume in Fermanagh

June 30, 2021

18 months after hosting his last farm walk CAFRE Technology Demonstration Farmer (TDF) John Egerton eagerly welcomed a group of farmers back up his Rosslea farm lane with great anticipation.  With social distancing measures and appropriate PPE in place CAFRE group meetings are beginning to get going once again.

Whist meetings continued online throughout lockdown there was relief to get meeting up again in person and back to some normality. With the majority of first cut silage completed farmers also enjoyed catching up after a busy period and John’s farm certainly provided many discussion points.

On a lovely Summers evening the group, accompanied by their CAFRE Beef and Sheep Adviser Gareth Beacom, not only viewed his spring and autumn calving cows but also got the opportunity to see his ABP blade calf rearing enterprise and a prolific sheep flock. Backed up with his up to date benchmarking reports the group soon got to work investigating the many factors behind John’s excellent suckler beef gross margin of £1220 per Hectare.

John carries a high stocking rate of 2.66 CE/HA which includes 90 suckler cows (45 spring calving and 45 autumn calving), 220 maternal bred ewes and a batch of dairy heifers on a contract rearing agreement.

John has been 100% AI on his farm for over 20 years and discussed several management techniques he has used to aid this. At present John uses Moocall heat detection ear tags which gives peace of mind and frees up time as cows don’t have to be monitored so closely. John also maintains a tight calving period and achieves on average a 90% hold rate in the first 2 cycles which aids management both for breeding and calving.

Grassland management was a hot talking point given the challenges this year has thrown at farmers. John measures grass, records growth on Agrinet and through the use of this programme John knows the daily grass requirements his stock. All this information then gives him the confidence to make the best decisions around grazing and take out paddocks for silage if required.

As well as the high levels of stockmanship and management on display it was John’s foresight and succession planning which was one of the key take home messages for many. John has a plan in place for all 3 of his sons to take over an enterprise each on the farm. Work is ongoing to increase the size of these enterprises in order to make them financially viable for each son.

John added, “Succession planning is something that needs to be discussed openly on all farms and young people should be encouraged to farm and given the opportunity to do so, they might make mistakes but it’s all part of the learning curve!”

If you would like to visit John’s farm, details of all TDFs, including John’s, and how to book a visit are available here. At the moment CAFRE is taking group bookings only by emailing kt.admin@daera-ni.gov.uk.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the European Union fund the Business Development Groups Scheme and the establishment of Technology Demonstration Farms across Northern Ireland under the Innovation Technology Evaluation Demonstration (ITED) Scheme, as part of the Rural Development Programme.