EFFICIENT grassland management coupled with detailed livestock identification have enabled Declan Rafferty to build up a very efficient suckler herd which has expanded from 30 cows to 100 head.
Declan, who farms near Pomeroy in partnership with his brother-in-law Aidan Quinn, explains: “We are currently growing just short of 11 tonne of grass per hectare. We normally aim for 70 per cent D-Value and 30 per cent dry matter. Membership of GrassCheck and the Suckler Beef Programme have encouraged us to utilise grass as much as we can, which has resulted in increased stocking rates along with a tight calving pattern, not to mention a more efficient, successfully run farm longer term.”
The 100 cow herd includes Simmental-cross, Limousin-cross, Stabiliser and Aberdeen Angus cows on 56 hectares, which is split into five land blocks with variant soil types. Seventy per cent of the herd is spring calving, whilst the other 30 per cent is due to calve in the autumn. The Spring calving cows are housed in September and back out mid-March, whilst the Autumn cows are housed mid-October and back out again at the end of April.
Declan comments: “All stock on the farm are home bred and the recent expansion of the herd has enabled us to sell replacements. There is keen demand for these due to our detailed management system. The emphasis on cattle identification to provide breeding records related to detailed performance figures and the health status of the herd encourages demand.”
Accurate and reliable livestock identification is a key requirement to support and extract the benefits of precise livestock management and measurement and the reason why Declan uses Countryside Services’ products.
He explains: “I find the Caisley electronic (EID) tag fulfils this role. We weigh the bulls once a month and weigh all stock five times annually. The Caisley EID tag allows me to record and determine target growth weights, and with this information I am able to implement feeding regimes to suit the cattle.
“Another benefit of the EID tag is that it allows me to quickly identify any health problems related to weight loss. Along with the EID reader, this tag provides us with the animal’s details electronically and is a very efficient and safe way to keep track of performance with minimal paperwork.”
Declan also commented on the attributes of the Caisley tag when collecting the ear tissue sample. “We find the Caisley tags are great for BVD sampling due to ease of application. The fact that the EID feature and BVD test comes equipped in the one tag results in a much more convenient tagging process, saving both time and hassle. The single strip feature on the Caisley tag also prevents mishaps or mistakes when tagging the calves.”
Declan prefers to purchase his Caisley EID tags from Countryside Services and highlights the expert service he receives. He says: “Whenever I have any queries regarding the Caisley electronic tag or any animal identification tag in general, the professional team at Countryside Services can offer specialist advice. Additionally, the tags are either posted out within a short time or ready to be collected within a few hours.”
He continues: “With Countryside Services now having an onsite BVD testing lab in Dungannon it is much more convenient for me, not to mention the quick turnaround on the BVD results.”
n For more information on the complete range of tags, visit Countryside Services’ online shop. Alternatively you can contact its specialised team by calling 028 8778 9770 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org