A trial paddock system for beef fattening – believed to be the first in the United Kingdom – on a Co Londonderry farm has been so successful that the whole grass acreage is to be put into paddocks next year.
Mr Norman McMillan said this to more than 130 local farmers when they visited his 50-acre farm at Derryarkin, Eglinton, last week for a demonstration, organised by Richardsons, of the system.
The 10 acre test area last year carried an average of one bullock per acre. This summer, with the area divided into 21 paddocks, the average stocking rate has been 2.4 head.
This high stocking is resulting in a much better feeder’s margin per acre, and thus points the way to better returns from beef fattening by intensive grassland usage.
Each paddock is grazed for 24 hours and then fertilised with a half-cwt of Two Sward. The whole area was fertilised with three cwt per acre of Two Sward in March before the
Grazing started on April 15 with 21 bullocks, a further five being added early in June. They gained just over three lbs per head per day until they were sold at the end of June.
Another 26 bullocks were then put into the paddocks. They gained 2.6lb per head until they were weighed on August 23.
Comparative figures for other cattle on the farm showed that the paddock grazed bullocks gained as much as those in open fields. The intensive fattening, therefore, had no adverse effect on the liveweight gain.
Mr R S Thomson, Richardson’s technical adviser, told the visitors that total output per acre on the trial area to date had been 7.1 cwt. This had given a considerably larger than normal feeder’s margin per acre of £81-14, less £13-11 for fertiliser and straw.