More than 200 farmers attended last week’s Ministry demonstration on planned beef production on the farm of Mr Noel Bailie, at Carnmora, Toomebridge.
They heard Mr Bailie relate some of his experiences in the winter fattening of cattle in traditional straw-bedded yards and saw his recently erected completely slatted house for more than 200 cattle to which he feeds silage from an outdoor clamp using a tractor mounted loader.
Mr Bailie fattens 600 animals annually and around 1,200 pigs and 240 sheep also pass through the farm during a year.
A substantial barley acreage is also grown but there is strong dependence on silage and special attention is paid to profitability with emphasis on the purchases of stores at the right time.
Farmers who attended the demonstration heard Ministry officials outline the points to be considered when store cattle or suckled calves were being purchased for winter fattening.
1 – The period of time in which the cattle would be ready to grade. This will depend to a large extent on the type of animal purchased, ie, whether it is a well fleshed store, a suckled calf or a backward store, etc. The level of feeding and the quality of hay and silage will of course be an important factor in this.
2 – The weight of the animal by the time it is ready to grade. This will depend on the length of the feeding period and the average daily live-weight gain.
3 – The price level that is likely to be operating when the animal is ready to be graded.
4 – Feeding costs.
It was pointed out that although this exercise would not change the price of stores available in the markets it should be possible with experience to judge whether or not the animals being offered for sale are likely to leave a satisfactory margin.
On cattle housing requirements, the farmers heard that where animals had a 24 hour access to ad-lip or self-feed silage the silage feeding space should be nine inches per head.
The meal feeding troughs required a space of two feet per head while in housing, a mature animal required 40 square feet per head in a bedded court system and 25 square feet per head in a totally slatted unit.