Gearoid’s farming week: Making use of a paddock system

Patrick Bolger

| Cattle & Dairy

| Jun 1, 2017

Cow Calf in field
For as long as I can remember, this has been one of the driest spells of weather from early April up until now. The weather has allowed us to tidy up field jobs that had been started at the tail end of last year, filling drains with stone and levelling out a file piles of earth. Ground conditions are excellent and it’s a pleasure to see the Cows utilise every rib of grass using our paddock system.

Making use of a paddock system

The farm is broken up into different paddocks and has been that way since the father started farming it. A paddock system allows us to get better use of the grass as the cows and calves have fresh leafy grass in front of them every couple of days. It also makes it handier to get a cow out of them when they are bulling.

Last years weanlings have been thriving well out on grass and will be heading to the local mart one of the days.


Update on breeding

Breeding has been going well on the farm with over 50% the cows gone back in calf. We have a bullock running with the cows but even with this, it can be hard to spot which ones are in heat.

Cows are checked every morning and evening and if any are presenting signs of bulling they would receive an AI bull either that evening or the following morning. We record the serve into the Herdwatch app and it goes to ICBF for us, this then feeds into the cow’s Star rating.  So far it has taken our cows on average 57 days to go back in calf after calving, which is not bad for a Suckler herd.

Bull Choice on the farm

The Bulls that we have used this year include:

  • LM2206,
  • LM2117,
  • ZAG,
  • OKH
  • FSZ.

We are taking part in the Beef Data and Genomics Program (BDGP) and one of the requirements is that at least 80% of the AI bulls used on the herd must have a 4-5 star rating across breeds in the terminal or replacement index. The BDGP has been replace by the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) as of 2023, find out more on the Herdwatch blog here.

A lot of our breeding females are already 4 or 5 Stars on the maternal index with many of our replacements coming from bucket feed calves which have been bought from a dairy herd.

We now place more emphases on using bulls with a high terminal index in the hope of producing a nice quality animal to sell as a yearling.

Over the last few years, we have used ZAG (a Limousine Bull,  5 star for maternal and 4 star for terminal traits) on all our springers and were happy with the results.

Small calves at birth that develop into nice shapely calves. This year, however, things changed, as the jack was needed to assist with two of the springers calving. In the future he wont be used on the smaller heifers.

The Green Cert

Over the past few weeks, I have also started the Teagasc Distance Education Green Cert in Pallaskenry Agriculture College. The course consists of 28 days broken into classroom sessions and practical skills that will be spread over an 18-20 month period.

At the end of the course, I will achieve a Level 5 Certificate in Agriculture and a Level 6 Specific Purpose Certificate in Farm Administration. So in lay man’s terms, I will have the Green Cert in the back pocket after the course.

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