|Charolais weanling’s performance at grass is incredible for Kilkenny farmer
Christy Comerford is a suckler farmer who runs 90 suckling cows alongside his own pedigree Charolais herd in Castlewarren, Co. Kilkenny. The system of production on the farm is a calf – weanling system. All cows calve in the spring time from February-April, with the weanlings being sold in the autumn in the months of September and October. The cows are predominantly Charolais cross, with a smaller number of Limousin and Simmental cross throughout the herd. It must be noted that the majority of cows in the herd are second and third generation cross cows down from the dairy herd. Christy believes that these cows are the most efficient in terms of milk production, fertility, feed efficiency and producing the heaviest calves at weaning.
The stock bulls used on the farm are always Charolais. Christy explains “the charolais bull is the perfect cross for my cows; the calves’ daily live weight gains, efficiency at grass and weaning weights are incredible.” And the facts do speak for themselves, as Christy consistently brings out some of the top priced weanlings every year to his local mart in Kilkenny, were he also picks up numerous prizes for his Charolais weanlings. The stock bull on the farm at present is ‘Knockmahon Flynn’ who was bred by Christy himself. Sired by ‘Vagabond’ out of a ‘Lyonsdemesne Tzar’ bred cow, Flynn is indeed a phenomenal weanling producer. With five stars for both carcass conformation, carcass weight and a calving figure of 9.1%, you would suspect Flynn is a high terminal index sire. However Christy is quick to point out the calving ease of his bull. “I have absolutely no problems with cows calving to this bull”.
Christy is a firm believer in producing weanlings as cheaply and cost efficiently as possible. It is for this reason that his weanlings are only feed meal for a maximum of 6 weeks before being sold in the autumn. This means that the cows must be able to rear their calves themselves and the weanlings must have the ability to gain weight from grass as efficiently as possible, without high inputs. The average daily live weight gain of the weanlings on Christy’s farm last year was 1.51kg/day. His last batch of 57 weanlings sold in October of 2013 at an average weight of 410kgs, at an average price of €1184. Remarkable gains and profitable returns mean Christy’s system of production is really proving to be quite a success. The performance of his charolais weanlings and the returns they give him must be admired, and can easily be replicated in similar systems.