I find Herefords to be the perfect breed for my needs, they are a quiet, calm animal, so ideal when I’ve a young family around the farm, they finish easily and can be kept for a shorter time. I buy heifers in a number of batches throughout the year between the ages of 12 and 18 months and aim to finish them at 24 to 26 months. If I think a particular animal needs more time to mature, I’ll hold onto it until closer to 30 months. I like to feed my heifers on grass with some supplementation added before they head to the factory and I keep a close eye on their weight so that I can see the difference it makes.
When the Covid restrictions of 2020 came into place we decided to purchase and rear Hereford calves on the family farm. This brought about a great opportunity for my young family to get even more hands on with the farm activities. We reared 16 calves for the first year and have increased the numbers of calves bought in each year. This Spring (2022) we hope to rear 40 calves.
Soil health and fertility is a very important to my farm system. I focus on liming regularly to maintain the optimum soil pH levels across the farm. The pH and nutrient levels are monitored through annual soil testing. All the farm was soil sampled in January 2022. By doing this we reduce the required level of chemical fertiliser. I spread protected urea to fulfil my nitrogen requirements. Using protected urea is one of the measures that I can make to farm more sustainably, particularly from an environmental perspective. Grass measuring is a very powerful tool for me to manage the growth of quality grass and silage on my farm. Through grass measuring I can apply fertiliser only where needed and at the optimal time. Essentially, I have a Nutrient Management Plan for my farm and it’s an ideal way to bring everything together.
In 2021 I became a member of Future Beef, part of the Signpost Farms programme with Teagasc. This is a five-year programme to showcase the science-based technologies that can reduce agricultural emissions. The farms involved will act as “hubs” for the Signpost Advisory campaign and create a national network of farms where carbon sequestration in grassland and hedgerows can be examined. This will further educate and equip me to farm alongside the natural environment while doing my part in reducing overall emissions from agriculture.