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The Derrypatrick HerdIntroduction

 The Derrypatrick Herd, Grange was established in 2009 for the purposes of research demonstration to Irish suckler beef producers.  The objective is to establish a high profit, grass-based, sustainable suckler beef systems research herd evaluating and demonstrating optimal animal breeding, grass-based feed nutrient supply and technical efficiency. The animals or carcasses produced will be suitable for the high priced continental EU markets i.e. lean carcasses of good conformation.

The research farm will entail ~120 spring-calving suckler cows comprising four breed types (with 30 cows per herd), these being:  Limousin × Holstein-Friesian,  Limousin × Simmental,  Charolais × Limousin, and, Charolais × Simmental, all of known genetic merit, mated to high genetic merit, late-maturing sire breeds, producing progeny to slaughter on predominantly grass-based, calf-to-beef systems operated at a relatively high stocking rate (>220 kg organic Nitrogen/ha). 

The cow breed types selected broadly represent the suckler “cow types” in the country. The suckler cow replacement breeding strategies planned  for the herd is also representative of what is available to Irish farmers, that is either  sourcing replacement heifers from the dairy herd (i.e. Limousin × Holstein-Friesian) or from the suckler herd (i.e. Limousin × Simmental, Charolais × Limousin and Charolais × Simmental). At purchase, the mean suckler beef value (SBV) of theLimousinx Holstein-Friesian was 81, whereas, that of the three late-maturing “continental” crossbreds was ~130, which places these animals in the top 5 to 10 % for commercial beef animals.  Mean reliability of the SBV was 30%.

The breeding policy will exploit breed differences and hybrid vigour which for  crossbreeding are due to a combination of; enhanced reproductive performance, lower calf mortality and higher calf growth. For the crossbred cows this advantage can be of the order of +13% and up to +21% when a sire of a third (different) breed is used. 

The herd will operate as a high stocking rate, spring-calving, grass-based calf-to-beef production system.   Mean calving date will coincide with the start of the grass growing season.

Target live weights at weaning, yearling and slaughter (~20 mths) for heifer progeny of a “mature” cow herd are, ~295 kg, ~375 kg and ~565 kg, respectively. Corresponding values for bull progeny are ~320 kg, ~400 kg and ~665 (~18 mths) kg.  Target carcass weights are ~310 kg for heifers and ~390 kg for bulls.

Due to the considerably lower comparative cost of grazed grass as a feedstuff, maximising the proportion of high digestibility, grazed grass in the annual feed budget, while simultaneously achieving high animal performance and providing sufficient grass silage of appropriate digestibility for the indoor winter period, is central to the production system. The annual feed budget of the calf-to-beef system will comprise approximately 60% grazed grass, 30% grass silage and 10% concentrates.  The calf-to-weanling component will comprise approximately 73% grazed grass, 26% grass silage and 1% concentrates.


€100 BVD cull payment Opens:

The application form for the one off €100 welfare payment for any beef bred cow, a calf from which is culled under the voluntary phase of the BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea) eradication programme, is now available from the Department’s website. The link is:


Lambs worst hit by Schmallenberg virus:

83 cases of Schmallenberg virus have been reported inBritainin the past ten days.  It is believed to have been spreas by midges blown over from mainlandEurope. IFA president John Bryan has urged farmers to be extremely cautious when purchasing animals of unknown origin and health status.

For More check out: Farmers fears that #schamllenberg incidence being under-reported


Big increase in Herdplus Membership:

The nimber of farmers signing up to ICBF Beef Herdplus has increased rapidly in the past few weeks.

But what is Herdplus ?

The ICBF Herdplus initiative is a low cost, user friendly service designed to ensure that Irish dairy and beef farmers have access to valuable management reports, with which to improve the profitability of their farming enterprises. Examples of reports specific to the beef service include: (1) Calving reports (2) Suckler Cow reports (3) Slaughter reports (4) Weanling reports (5) and Stock reports (for nitrate calculations). It is importantto note that none of these reports require additional work on behalf of the farmer. Instead, the reports are based on the simple principle of summarizing existing data collected through various schemes such as the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme and AIM and then linking this with data from industry partners such as Marts and Abattoirs. There are currently some 10,000 signed up members of the service.

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