The great summer weather attracted a good turnout of members of Fermanagh Grassland Club to their recent farm walk on the farm of David and Neil Henderson, near Tamaght, Enniskillen.

The father and son run a herd of about 100 suckler cows on a calf to weanling system on some 220 acres with the emphasis on breeding replacement heifers as well as producing Beef Shorthorn beef. The farm is also one of CAFRE's Technology Demonstration Farms focusing on beef fertility.

The farm originates from a purchase of about 90 acres made in 1984 with around 140 acres of neighbouring land purchased in 1999.

The farm holding has four inland lakes and also borders Upper Lough Erne.

The Hendersons calve in two batches in the spring and there is a three-way breeding cross involving Simmental, Limousin and Shorthorn with a Charolais bull used on mature cows not breeding for replacements. This three-way breeding maximises calf performance and breeding decisions are based on performance recorded stock bulls while keeping in mind the myostatin gene.

David explained they try to produce a heifer not overly big. The calving index averages 373 days with the second calvers on 367 days.

The high quality grass on the farm was evident during the farm walk with David explaining he now tries to reseed using direct drilling rather than the conventional ploughing and cultivation method.

He said the introduction of the Beef Shorthorn breed had a major difference to the herd, producing good milkers and quiet cattle.

Vaccination for the usual diseases is carried out and no creep feeding for calves is offered while they are at grass. The calves will be getting top quality silage during the winter period.

The Hendersons also run a sheep flock.

Those attending the farm walk were impressed with the high quality stock, as well as good quality grassland, neat hedges and farm lanes which link the fields together. At some parts of the farm there are good views over the Lough Erne system.

After everyone returned to the farmyard for supper provided by David's wife Iris, Fermanagh Grassland Club Chairman, Nigel Graham asked Ian Brown to propose a vote of thanks.