The last of the 2022-born cattle on the ABP Demo Farm were turned out to grass on Wednesday, April 5.

ABP Food Group’s Advantage Beef Programme farm liaison officer, Sean Maher, explained that grazing conditions have proved to be challenging over the past week and said drier conditions forecast for next week will hopefully bring a welcome change in weather conditions.

Commenting on the performance of the 2022-born cattle over the winter housing period, Maher said: “Performance has been very good. The last cattle to be turned out had an average weight of 390kg.

“The heaviest animal in the batch is an Angus bullock weighing 502kg and we have a few high performers weighing over the 480kg mark.”

The first cattle were turned out to grass in February and will be weighed in the coming two weeks to monitor their progress.

All first-cut silage ground was grazed earlier in the year and has received an application of chemical fertiliser.

However, difficult weather conditions resulted in no slurry being spread on first-cut silage ground so plans have been changed and slurry will be targeted on areas of ground that require it, once conditions allow.

The average farm grass cover for the first week of April is running at approximately 700kg dry matter (DM)/ha and the growth rate was 23kg/DM/ha/day. The farm cover for this week last year was 870kg DM/ha.

ABP Demo Farm: Calf rearing

There are now 340 calves on the ABP Demo Farm with all common breeds represented. The average arrival weight of calves was approximately 60kg.

40 of the first calves to arrive have now been weaned off milk at an average liveweight of 85kg. These calves gained 0.7kg/day on average since arrival at the ABP Demo Farm.

Maher said: “The changeable weather and variable temperatures have made the last few weeks of calf rearing more tricky.

“Constantly monitoring calves and in checking calf temperatures when calves appear off-form or are not drinking is the tried and tested way of finding sick calves early.”

All calves are fed milk once-a-day after 28 days of age. Once calves are consuming adequate levels of concentrates, they are gradually reduced to 2L of milk/feed and then milk is gradually removed from the diet as calves become dependent on solid feed for nutrients.

Store lambs

Only 60 lambs remain on the farm of the 580 store lambs purchased last autumn. Lambs are now being drafted at 51kg with a target carcass weight of 23kg.

“The lambs’ performance has been good and the response to concentrates at grass has justified adding meal to the diet,” Maher said.