FARMER FOCUS: Bumper silage this year

All silage is safely gathered in and what a difference a year makes. Last year we had already used 400t of silage by November. By April silage was making £70/t; as you can imagine every corner of every field has been baled this year throughout NI.

Fourth cut – even though it was light – averaged about four bales per acre and will make a buffer when we close the silo up in May for first cut. Reseeding and draining has been completed and at present I’m starting to wean cows from calves. Culls first, old, crosses, poor performers and empty all must go. As a friend of mine said, there is a concrete circle in Ballymena and men meet once a week, wave and take home cows. We must keep the operation streamlined.

The heifers we synchronised scanned well with 80% holding to first service and the remainder three weeks later were a great hit. Next year sexed semen will be used including Limousin, Aberdeen Angus and Stabiliser.

The Agrisearch Beef committee went to visit some farms in Yorkshire. We have tasked ourselves to provide a blue print for a profitable suckler beef unit.

On our travels we visited Mike Powley, a past winner of Farmers Weekly beef farmer of the year, Martin Lowcock and the Net Feed efficiency unit and Givendale herd.

All units were completely different from selling stores, to producing high-end extreme carcase cattle to low input and high output. It was extremely interesting and thought provoking.

One common thread ran through all herd, and indeed my own: docility of cows. This is the number one thing to management and fertility. Thanks guys for a great two days.

Fluke is hiding its head, but our local meat plant sent me a list of lambs we killed this year and we had fluke present in lambs killed in July so let’s not be complacent and we will be dosing as usual this autumn.

The TB and Brucelosis test is due in November so I will take this opportunity to collect dung samples and bloods to check for rumen fluke, blood profile, BVD and Johnnes.

Heading to the Isle of Man at the end of the month to give a talk. I can see the island from our yard so it will be nice to see it in person.

Sam Chesney runs a spring-calving herd of 120 Limousin cross sucklers in Kircubbin, Northern Ireland. He was 2011 Farmers Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year

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