This past week began with a trip down to Loop Head in West Clare. This is a very scenic area with coastal views on both sides as one travels from Kilkee towards Loop Head. The first client had a suckler herd with excellent cross bred beef cows. He had used AI during the winter months and ran a stock bull with the cows for the month of February through April. We had to age and foetal sex the pregnancies. Contrary to the typical dairy herd, most of the cows (95%) were in calf. This suckler farmer was a part-time farmer with an off-farm job in Kilrush. Many of these jobs are precarious at the present time. Fortunately there is a good profit margin in suckler beef production.
Calls in the area around Doonbeg centered around a mixture of dairy and beef farmers. Many of these individuals are dependent solely on farming for an income. Farms are fragmented, soils are marginal for grass production and the optimum to increase herd size is limited.
County Clare is renowned for the breeding of Limousine cattle. Many beef farmers breed Limousine cattle for the production of bulls for suckler herds. The breeding of pedigree cattle results in social interaction, which is very beneficial in rural Ireland where social isolation can be a problem. A number of the pedigree cattle breeders use superovulation and embryo transfer procedures to harvest extra progeny from their best genetics on the farm. Many farmers get very frustrated with the variable results from these procedures. It is very difficult to predict responses to treatments for embryo transfer. Costs can indeed far exceed the resulted profit from the sale of progeny.
My day in County Clare finished with visits to two dairy farmers outside Ennis. In one case the client was focused on milk production in excess of 10,000 litres per cow in 305 days while the second was a grass –based milk producer at 5,500 litres per cow. There are evident differences in both production systems , with profit margins deemed to be higher per cow on the grass-based system. However, if cows are well managed in a high output system, longevity of the cow is dramatically increased. Systems approach need further discussion with a fair comparison.
Dr.Dan and all the team @ www.cows365.com