ABP Food Group held a Suckler Cattle Farm Walk in Arva, Co. Cavan at Wilson Kells Farm on Wednesday October 27th.
The event was hosted by ABP Food Group’s Advantage Beef Program Farm Liaison Team and attendees received tips and tricks on animal nutrition, animal health and farm programs.
The event was well attended by area farmers with many questions coming from the crowd on a range of topics.
Wilson farms with his wife, Pearl, and son, Nigel. The team has 60 commercial suckler cows and operates primarily a spring calving herd.
Wilson is a member of ABP’s Advantage Beef program. This processor-led initiative is a sustainability program for cattle producers that rewards eligible cattle with a 20c/kg durability bonus.
Bulls are finished at less than 16 months on the farm and heifers are finished at less than 24 months.
The soil type of the farm is heavy, so managing the commercial suckler cow herd requires careful management.
Both a Charolais bull and artificial insemination (AI) bulls are used on the farm. There is a range of cattle breeds on the farm including Charolais, Simmental, Limousin, Aberdeen Angus and Hereford.
Herd performance statistics on Kells Suckler Farm:
|Age at slaughter:||2022: 23 months|
|Average carcass weight:||2022: 346kg|
|Average grade and fat score:||R+3+|
|Age at slaughter||2021: 15.1 months
2022 to date: 14.3 months
|Average carcass weight||2021: 421kg
2022 to date: 416kg
|Average grade and fat score:||2021: U=3=
2022 to date: U=3=
Breeding performance 2021/2022:
|Wilson’s Herd||national average|
|Calving interval:||354 days||393 days|
|% heifers calved at 22-26 months||100%||24%|
|Known sire calves||100%||78%|
|Calves from AI||48%||17%|
At the event, Wilson gave an overview of his farming system. He told farmers that the only change he needed to make to his system to become eligible for the Advantage Beef scheme’s 20c/kg sustainability premium was in the weighing of his cattle.
ABP Agriculture Liaison Officer Oisin Lynch provided an overview of the ABP Demo Farm and the Advantage Beef program requirements.
Amie Coonan, Advantage Beef Farm Liaison Team Leader, gave an interesting presentation on animal nutrition.
She spoke about the importance of testing the quality of silage and also gave insight into how to interpret silage test results.
She explained that while many farmers look at the dry matter (DM) and dry matter digestibility (DMD) values of silage, there are other parameters that also need to be factored into the test results. silage.
Understanding silage results:
Amie also said animal feed labels should be checked by farmers to see the composition of the ration they are feeding. The ingredients of a food ration are listed in descending order starting with the most present ingredient.
The energy an animal can use is measured in terms of UFL. One UFL unit has the same energy value as dried barley.
UFL of raw materials for bovine rations:
The third speaker for the day was Niall Brennan of MSD Animal Health, who spoke about vaccination protocols that help reduce the risk of Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) in overwintering cattle.
Brennan said vaccination is part of the solution to animal health, but stressed that other factors such as biosecurity, management, hygiene and housing facilities are also important parts of the equation. animal health.
He said Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) is the most common cause of illness and death in cattle over the age of one month and gave an overview of vaccine products offered to help mitigate the risk of outbreaks. of MRB in a herd.
The final speaker of the day was Agricultural Advisor Johnathan Anderson, who gave farmers an overview of the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES).
Johnathan explained that different measures will suit different ACRES farmers and answered questions from farmers in attendance about aspects of the program.
The event ended with a lunch and a discussion between the farmers present on various issues and news from the agricultural world.