Grassland Management (beef)

CAFRE have recruited six beef technology demonstration farm applicants to demonstrate selected essential technologies within the Grassland Management theme.

Check out the introduction video to these farms

Farm 1 – Stephen Maguire, Maguiresbridge, Fermanagh.

Stephen formerly managed a suckler herd on his 100 acre farm. He is now transitioning to become a ‘Blade’ calf rearing and finishing unit. Stephen is currently grazing the remainder of the stock produced by the suckler herd and plans to sell suitable replacement heifers in-calf. In future he hopes to finish 100 blade cattle per year from a predominantly grass based system while also rearing 20 dairy heifers. He operates a rotational paddock based system targeting to move cattle every three days.

Farm 2 – Sam Chesney, Kirkubbin, Co. Down.

Sam has a herd of 140 suckler cows and 100 ewes. The majority of male progeny are finished as under 16month bulls. Blade calves are also finished on farm. Breeding is comprised of a mixture of bulls and synchronisation programmes with A.I. Sam implements a rotational paddock system with groups being moved every 3 days and aims to grow 14 tonnes of grass dry matter per year. Grass growth is monitored using weekly platemeter measurements. Sam has sown and grazed some herbal leys.

Farm 3 – James Henderson, Kilkeel, Co. Down.

James runs two enterprises on his 150acre farm, 90 dairy origin beef heifers and 300 ewes. Calves are purchased at 3 weeks of age in autumn and are finished off grass at 22-24 months of age. The heifers are predominantly limousine and Belgian blue crosses. James implements a rotational grazing system with groups being moved every two days. Grass growth is monitored weekly using a platemeter and computer software.

Farm 4 – Alastair McNeilly, Muckamore, Co. Antrim.

Alastair manages a spring calving suckler herd of 85 cows over 145 acres with all male progeny finished as steers at 18-22 months old. He keeps his own replacements and aims for them to calve down at 24 months old. Any females unsuitable for breeding are also finished. His cattle are a mixture of Limousin, Angus, Shorthorn and Simmental genetics. Alastair operates a rotational paddock grazing system with weekly grass measurements taken using a platemeter. The addition of more paddocks has allowed Alastair to increase his stocking rate.

Farm 5 – Declan Rafferty, Pomeroy, Co. Tyrone.

Declan manages a herd of 100 suckler cows over 140 acres with 70 calving in spring and 30 calving in autumn. Heifers that are unsuitable to be kept as replacements are finished and males are finished as under 16 month bulls. Declan also rears 25 dairy bred calves that are bought in autumn and contract rears 45 dairy heifers from 4 months old to the point of calving. All stock are rotationally paddock grazed and the grazing platform is measured weekly with a platemeter.

Farm 6 – John Milligan, Castlewellan, Co. Down.

John runs a 85 cow suckler herd and 300 ewes over 200acres. 70 cows calve in spring and the remaining 15 in autumn however, John hopes to calve all cows in spring in the coming years. Any heifers produced on the farm that aren’t chosen to be kept as replacements are sold in calf or finished with the male progeny.  In autumn between 50-60 dairy bred beef calves (mostly Angus) are bought and kept through to finishing at 24 months old. John operates a rotational paddock system with grass measuring done weekly.