Progressive suckler farmer demonstrates improving returns from changes to farm

Published: 30 Aug 2012 13:000 comments

Maguiresbridge suckler farmer, Stephen Maguire, who farms at Congo, Maguiresbridge, recently hosted a farm walk for members of Fermanagh Grassland Club.

Taking part in the Fermanagh Grassland Club farm walk are(from left); William Johnston, Secretary of Fermanagh Grassland Club; Stephen Maguire, host farmer from Congo, Maguiresbridge; Ivan Henderson, Chairman of Fermanagh Grassland Club and Kieran Mailey, Programme Adviser for the NI Suckler Beef Programme.

Stephen participates in the Northern Ireland Suckler Beef Programme which is co-ordinated by Kieran Mailey, the NI adviser.

Some 60 members of the Club attended the farm walk, despite the poor weather conditions.

Stephen farms 46 hectares divided in two blocks, with 25 hectares of owned ground and a further 21 hectares of rented land, about one milk from the main farm. He stocks this with 51 spring calving suckler cows with a further 12 in-calf heifers. The cows are Simmental and Limousin cross mated with A.I. Simmental sires and a Charolais stock bull. His stocking rate is 1.6 livestock units per hectare or 1676kg liveweight per hectare.

It is a suckler to weaning system with some heifers sold for breeding.

He has been looking at four main areas to improve the farm, including sward improvement, tightening the calving pattern, using better grazing management such as creep grazing and adopting a two-year-old calving system. Daily liveweight gains were 1.42kg per day last summer and 1.36kgs per day this summer.

Stephen has adopted min-till sward rejuvenation during 2011. He demonstrated that the total costs of spray, sub soiling, drilling grass, buying the grass seed and spreading fertiliser and lime, amounted to £158 per acre.

A rotational grazing system is adopted on the farm with cows and groups in two groups; with silage made in one cut on an outfarm and grazed afterwards. Grazing paddocks that become too strong are baled.

Over the past few years, Stephen has pulled the calving index back to 366 days from 393 days in 2010.

He has also improved animal performance with the use of grass. More calves born in early spring increased liveweight and more liveweight was achieved from grass, reducing concentrates by eight tonnes. The average sale weight of bull calves in 2011 was 348kg with the average sale price of £1.89 per kg. Heifer calves sold for £1.97 per kg during 2011 with average weights of 367kgs.

The value of early calving such as January/February is shown in the calf weights at housing. January/February born calves weighed 401kgs at housing in October last while those born in March weighed just 321kgs at housing. The breed also plays a part in performance in his herd. Charolais bred bull calves achieved 1.34kg/day DLWG compared with Simmental at 1.32kgs/day DLWG.

Stephen is moving his herd from 36 months calving to 24 months calving to increase herd profit. Analysis has shown lower rearing costs in a 24 months calving system by around £160 per head.

The heaviest costs for a 36 months calving system is the winter keep beyond the 24 months period.

The N I Suckler Beef Programme is a three-year programme to improve the profitability, as well as the viability, of their suckler herds and the gross margin of (GM) £750/ha was set as a target to be achieved at the end of the programme.

The main emphasis for the individual farms is to increase herd output through increased technical efficiency from better grassland management and improved herd fertility. Ideally this should be achieved by controlling variable costs.

Jump to first paragraph.

Comments

comments powered by Disqus

Get more stories from our Farming section

10 Apr 2014 13:00 • Editorial Department

9,000 farmers sign petition against meat plant proposals

Farmers in Fermanagh have been leading a Province-wide campaign opposing a plan by meat plants to introduce financial penalties for cattle who do not conform to strict specifications which they plan to introduce.

Social: Comments0 comments

10 Apr 2014 13:00 • Brian Donaldson

Local farmers wait longer to get their SFP

Farmers in Fermanagh and Tyrone have to wait longer for their Single Farm Payment money thank other areas of Northern Ireland, according to Tom Elliott, MLA.

Social: Comments0 comments

3 Apr 2014 13:00 • Brian Donaldson

Andrew selected for YFC European Rally in Wales

A member of Lisbellaw YFC, Andrew Little, who is also Chairman of Fermanagh YFC County Committee, has been chosen to represent the YFCU at the European Rally after attending a celebratory lunch held at the headquarters of Danske Bank, sponsors.

Social: Comments0 comments

3 Apr 2014 13:00 • Brian Donaldson

CAP reforms: views are still divided

There have been strong comments made during the past week on which direction of the CAP reforms in Northern Ireland should take in the next number of years.

Social: Comments0 comments

3 Apr 2014 13:00 • Brian Donaldson

Six weeks until Balmoral Show

It is only six weeks until this year’s Balmoral Show and the second year for it to be held at Balmoral Park.

Social: Comments0 comments

3 Apr 2014 13:00 • Brian Donaldson

2014 tax return charges from a farming angle

Many farmers are now starting to finalize their accounting records as a basis for completing their 2014 Tax Returns. Revenue & Customs have introduced some changes which are effective for the 2014 Tax Return.

Social: Comments0 comments

3 Apr 2014 13:00 • Brian Donaldson

Food courses served up during Loughry Open Day

If you are thinking of a career in the food and drink industry then Loughry Campus Open Day in Cookstown on Tuesday next, April 8 between 3 - 8 pm could be the place to begin.

Social: Comments0 comments

27 Mar 2014 13:00 • Brian Donaldson

Local breeders among rosettes at Simmental spring show

Fermanagh breeders took the supreme bull championship and the reserve female champion at the Northern Ireland Simmental Cattle Breeders’ Club’s spring show and sale, held at Dungannon Farmers’ Mart.

Social: Comments0 comments

27 Mar 2014 13:00 • Brian Donaldson

Bees become active as weather improves

With March being a tense time of year for beekeepers, they have nursed their colonies through a long, wet winter and are now waiting anxiously to see how strong they really are.

Social: Comments0 comments

27 Mar 2014 13:00 • Brian Donaldson

Grant aid for slurry equipment re-opens next week

The Manure Efficiency Technology Scheme which provides financial support for specialised slurry spreading equipment is to re-open on Monday next, March 31, the Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill has announced. The closing date for applications is April 25.

Social: Comments0 comments

27 Mar 2014 13:00 • Brian Donaldson

New officers for Trillick YFC at annual meeting

Trillick YFC has just held its annual meeting with new office-bearers elected and a review of a successful year.

Social: Comments0 comments

20 Mar 2014 13:30 • Brian Donaldson

Chinese visitors see how Ireland leads in the equine industry

This is the Chinese Year of the Horse and what better way to mark it in Fermanagh than with the arrival of students from the Far East who are spending 10 months looking at the success of the horse industry in Ireland and England.

Social: Comments0 comments

20 Mar 2014 13:30 • Brian Donaldson

Minister clarifies position with entitlements

The Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has taken some of the first steps to clarify DARD’s position on the CAP reforms by announcing the future of entitlements and the definition of an active farmer.

Social: Comments0 comments

20 Mar 2014 13:30 • Brian Donaldson

Milestone year for ploughing society marked with traditional competition

The 25th anniversary year of the amalgamation of Fermanagh and Tyrone Ploughing Societies was marked with a perfect day for the annual ploughing match on Saturday.

Social: Comments0 comments

20 Mar 2014 13:30 • Brian Donaldson

Busy year of activities for Lisbellaw YFC members

It has been a busy year so far for Lisbellaw YFC who met recently for their annual dinner.

Social: Comments0 comments

13 Mar 2014 13:30 • Brian Donaldson

Chinese students look at equine education

2014 is the Chinese Year of the Horse and coincidentally, this week, 13 Chinese graduates are spending five days at CAFRE’s Enniskillen Campus which specialises in equine education.

Social: Comments0 comments

13 Mar 2014 13:30 • Brian Donaldson

MEPs briefed on CAP concerns

All three MEPs in Northern Ireland have now heard how Fermanagh farmers viewed the new CAP reforms for the next period.

Social: Comments0 comments

13 Mar 2014 13:30 • Brian Donaldson

Export show and sale awards for local bred bulls

Fermanagh breeders lifted top awards at the recent Northern Ireland Charolais Society’s export show and sale in Dungannon.

Social: Comments0 comments

13 Mar 2014 13:30 • Brian Donaldson

Top Hereford joins local herd

Fermanagh farmers, Terry and Rosie Roberts purchased two of the top animals at the recent Hereford Elite Breeders’ sale in Dungannon Mart.

Social: Comments0 comments

13 Mar 2014 13:30 • Brian Donaldson

Trillick YFC marks 50th

Trillick & District YFC continued their 50th Anniversary celebrations with an Open Weekend in the club hall. Visitors were able to view an interesting and comprehensive display of club memorabilia arranged by Hazel McCay, author of the club history, ‘Golden Memories,’ assisted by club members and friends.

Social: Comments0 comments