THE British Grassland Society
will hold its Summer Meet-ing in Northern Ireland later this month, hosted by the Ulster Grassland Society and Fermanagh Grassland Club. Over three days delegates will have the opportunity to visit excellent farms, undertake several industry visits and attend a gala dinner at the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick.
The event takes place from June
27-29 with details of the various visits as follows:
Day 1: Monday, June 27, County Down
Beattie, Margret and Reggie Lilburn, Dromore.
The family runs a pedigree herd of 250 Holsteins plus followers. The herd is managed with quality grass and forage as the key to high levels of cow performance. All the swards are regularly reseeded with the latest grass varieties. Four cuts of silage are taken each year with an ME of over 12 MJ achieved.
Brian and Lynn McCracken, New-townards.
The 360 acre farm supports 230 milking cows and replacement stock. Making grass work through planning, measuring and adopting flexible management practices is delivering sustainable levels of milk production at controlled costs. The herd production figures for 2021 were 6,050 l/cow at butterfat 4.55%, and protein 3.66%. Purchased feed for 2021 averaged at 1.1 t/cow. Stocking rate on the grazing area available for the milk cows averaged 2.7 cows/ha in 2021.
John Martin and family, Grey-abbey.
John was the winner of the 2019 BGS Grassland Farmer of the Year competition and farms 180 acres, which includes nearly 40 acres of short rotation coppice willows for biomass.
The main enterprise is a flock of 710 ewes, including 160 ewe lambs. All ewes are home bred, with a mixture of Aberfield, Highlander and Belclare genetics used over many years to create a functional home bred composite ewe.
Annually, 40 dairy replacement heifers are grazed and wintered to add income and get benefits of mixed grazing. Six ha of spring barley is grown for home use, and this also facilitates a rotational reseeding programme.
Day 2: Tuesday, June 28
Philip and David Clarke, Augher, County Tyrone.
The farm extends to 120 acres with grass central to the success of this spring calving system. The 85 spring calving crossbred cows produce 4,250 litres of milk from forage. The family farm is focused on managing a very tight calving pattern with herd fertility a priority and the farm has a number of management practices in place to ensure a high six week calving rate. Simple management systems aim to optimise profitability.
John Egerton and sons, Rosslea, County Fermanagh.
This is a family farm operating four enterprises – suckler cows to beef, lowland sheep, Blade calf rearing system and contract rearing of dairy heifers. The farm adopts the latest grassland technologies to make maximum use of grazed grass across all enterprises. Attention to detail is evident on the farm and includes the long-term use of AI breeding data to significantly improve the suckler herd’s maternal genetics and weight recording of calves to optimise growth and performance. John is sustainably growing the business as his three sons are all keen to work on the home farm.
Agri-Food and Biosciences Instit-ute AFBI, Hillsborough, County Down.
Delegates will learn more about
the latest R&D work being undertaken across ruminant live-stock production, climate change and the environment. The work undertaken by AFBI supports development work on farms and underpins the Northern Ireland agri-food industry.
Day 3: Wednesday, June 29
Alastair McNeilly, Muckamore.
Here 163 acres of grassland supports a 100-cow spring calving suckler herd and birth to beef system. Alastair places great emphasis on a short calving period and excellent cow fertility. Males are finished as steers, sold mostly deadweight. Heifers not used for breeding are sold finished with the target to have heifers sold at 20 months and steers at 22-24 months. Replacements are home reared, with a combination of natural service bulls and carefully selected maternal AI bulls used.
In recent years Alastair has made significant progress in est-ablishing grazing infrastructure, focusing on fertility and cow type, and increasing gross margin per hectare. The farm also supports a broiler finishing enterprise.
The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Greenmount.
This visit will provide the opport-unity to see first-hand one of the leading agricultural educational facilities in the British Isles. The Greenmount campus manages dairy, beef and sheep enterprises with a strong focus on environmental stewardship, including constructed wetlands, ammonia mitigation and
is LEAF accredited. Delegates will
be able to learn more of the knowledge exchange, innovation, and technology programmes where CAFRE works directly with farmers to support sustainable development of their businesses.
There will be a Gala Dinner on Monday, June 27, and an informal barbecue at AFBI Hillsborough on Tuesday, June 28, after the BGS Annual General Meeting, when the current BGS President Drew McConnell will hand over the reins to his successor, Dr Elizabeth Stock-dale.
Obviously events like this depend heavily on sponsorship and the British Grassland Society, Ulster Grassland Society and Fermanagh Grassland Club are grateful to all of the generous sponsors who are supporting the 2022 Summer Meeting, in particular signed up Platinum Sponsors including ABP, DAERA, Dale Farm Ltd, Dawn Meats and YARA UK.
The BGS Summer Meeting is open to all with a range of options as a Full Delegate or Day Delegate for specific days with all bookings having to be made in advance via the BGS website www.britishgrassland.com then click on events and Summer Meeting.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.