Ballynahinch, Co. Down-based business suckler farmer Barry Fitzsimons is about to indicate how a swap to Beef Shorthorn genetics has helped him enhance his enterprise at a Northern Eire Beef Shorthorn Membership Open Day on Saturday, September 9.
For Barry Fitzsimon’s Bawnforth Herd, a change to Beef Shorthorn cattle took place because of his want to ease workload and guarantee a sustainable enterprise for future generations.
He stated: “We have been operating a herd of Continental-cross sucklers and whereas they have been delivering nice carcasses, there have been a lot of points which have been hindering the enterprise.
“Precept amongst these was fertility and an ever-increasing calving interval. Added to this, we have been struggling to complete bullocks at a lot under-30-months of age on our largely grass-based system and that meant additional prices on the enterprise with cattle being on-farm longer than we wished.”
Since introducing Shorthorn genetics, cattle are often completed by 24 months from the 45-cow suckler herd run by Barry with assist of his son, Craig and grandson, Tom.
“As a spring-calving herd meaning we don’t have them right here for a 3rd summer season at grass and that’s a big enchancment, which means we will shut grass up for silage sooner and make higher high quality forage,” Barry stated.
“It additionally means we will, doubtlessly, carry a couple of extra cows on the identical acreage, making for a extra environment friendly herd.”
Bawnforth Herd key efficiency indictor (KPI) knowledge:
- High 25% Northern Eire calving interval – 372 days, decreased from in extra of 400;
- High 25% Northern Eire age at slaughter – most cattle completed at 24-25 months, down from 29-30 months for bullocks;
- All cattle assembly spec for Glenarm Beef Shorthorn scheme – 10% premium on customary DW worth;
- 15 cattle slaughtered Feb-Might 2023 averaged 332.8kg carcass weight at a median age of 23 months. The youngest was 17 months previous and the oldest 26 months previous;
- 15 cattle slaughtered Feb-Might 2023 averaged £1,664.13/head after deductions;
- Now operating three cows for each two carried when herd was Continental breeding.
“With authorities coverage in the end pushing in the direction of reducing carbon outputs in farming, rising suckler herd effectivity must be excessive up the listing,” the farmer added.
“A compact calving interval, with a brief calving interval is central to this, as is operating a herd that thrives in a forage-based system, with minimal bought-in feed.”
Ending cattle are fed some meal to place the ultimate cowl on them, however for Barry’ cattle the quantity is way lower than would have been the case with the continental-cross cattle.
“They merely don’t want as a lot meal to complete and that’s each a price saving and an environmental profit,” the farmer stated.
Benchmarking with the Division of Agriculture, Setting and Rural Affairs of Northern Eire (DAERA) has confirmed the advantages with the herd within the prime 25% of Northern Irish benchmarked herds for each age at slaughter and calving interval.
“However it’s not simply the herd’s efficiency which has improved, so too has temperament and ease of working. The cows are quiet, calm cows that are a pleasure to work with,” Barry stated.
The Northern Eire Beef Shorthorn Membership’s open day shall be held at Mr Fitzsimons’ Bawnforth herd, Ballynahinch, Co. Down, on Saturday, September 9, and all are welcome to attend.