Steven Campbell fa-
rms just outside Bell-aghy and is currently running 100 suckler cows. Eighty are West of Ireland Simmental and Limousin cross, and 20 are pedigree Belted Galloway.
The calving season is typically 12 weeks and runs from October to December.
Calving cows in the autumn time suits Steven’s workload as he has other enterprises to manage.
The West of Ireland Sim-mental and Limousin cross animals within Steven’s herd were recently introduced with the aim of breeding his own replacements in addition to weanling sales from the herd. The target mature cow weight of these animals is 650-700 kg.
The initial decision to establish the new herd was
because Steven wanted to
move towards compact cal-ving for ease of management.
The decision was taken following a Farm Innovation Visit (FIV) in September 2019
run by CAFRE and part fund-
ed by the EU Rural Dev-elopment Programme to a farm in England operating Genus RMS (Reproductive Management System).
Steven set in place a similar management system with his local insemination service provider, Cogent.
They ran a 12-week pro-gramme with Steven’s herd, which involved walking and chalking cows daily during the breeding season and using sexed semen from bulls with high milk traits and maternal figures which would produce suitable replacement heifers.
Going forward, sexed se-men will be used on heifers and conventional semen on mature cows within the herd.
The offspring will be weaned each July-August at target weights of 400-450kgs. Heifers will then be pelvic measured for selection as suitable replacements.
The male calves will be sold to a beef finisher as bulls, again with a target weight of 400-450kgs for a 90-120 day finishing period.
Scanning results have shown that over 90 per cent of the heifers were settled in calf to AI.
Steven is happy with th-ese results and counts the implementation of the technology on his farm as good value for money.
There had been an issue picking up cows with silent heats and Steven would consider investing in collars to aid heat detection in fut-ure.
He has invested in 360° cameras for the cattle houses which he stated was a super investment as they assist with heat detection and calving.
Steven has also updated his handling facilities and invested in a Clipex Squeeze crush, which he finds in-valuable for health and safety of the operator and animal now that cows are handled more frequently.
Like many others, he has experienced the impacts of Covid. In particular the affect it has had on BDG Group meetings.
Steven commented: “I enjoy the group meetings and seeing the different farming techniques used by other group members.
“This sometimes leads to those lightbulb moments for improving your own farm practices.
“Let’s hope we are on the road to recovery and will be enjoying the benefits of on-farm meetings again very soon.”
The BDGs scheme is fund-ed by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and
Rural Affairs and the Euro-pean Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.