|Charolais cross weanlings perform way above the average for Teagasc/IFJ Better Farmer Chris Mc Carthy
Chris Mc Carthy is a suckler farmer who runs a calf-weanling system from 55 cows on his 70 acre farm in Crookedwood, Co Westmeath. Chris’s farm is part of the Teagasc/Irish Farmer’s Journal Better Farm beef programme. Since joining the programme the herd has increased from 30 to 55 breeding cows. The cow types on the farm are mainly Limousin, Charolais and Simmental crosses. They are run with two high terminal index Charolais stock bulls to produce top quality weanlings for the autumn market.
The herd is based on a spring calving system with all cows calving within a 12 week period. Replacements are never reared on the farmed; instead they are sourced from known herds just before calving down. The aim is to produce bull weanlings at a live weight of 375kgs and heifer weanlings at a live weight of 345kgs for sale in the autumn. In recent year’s Chris has increased the amount of live weight produced per hectare on the farm. In return this increase in output has led to a significant improvement in the farm’s gross margin.
One of the main reasons for this has been Chris’s investments in top quality high terminal index Charolais bulls. The stock bulls in use on the farm at present are ‘Corbaun Goldie’ a son of ‘CF 85’ out of a ‘Meillard’ dam. This bull has a calving figure of 7.9% and 5 star terminal index of €134. The other stock bull on the farm is ‘Drumagoland 05 Gatley’ a son of ‘Carrigabruise Barney’ by ‘CF 52’. This bull has a calving figure of 8.2% and a 4 star terminal index of €124.
In 2014 the Char X weanlings on the farm have performed well above the national average. Bull calves have gained 1.36kg/day while heifers have gained 1.20kg/day on average. The national average performance of weanling bulls stands at 1.15kg/day and heifers at 1kg/day. This extra live weight gain means that Chris can get his weanlings off the farm earlier in winter at heavier weights. ‘Compared to the national average live weight gain, Chris’s charolais X weanlings are generating him an additional €7,600 in terms of farm sales from his 55 cow herd. Not to mention the fact that this weight gain has been achieved from a grass only diet.’ This outstanding performance is set to see Chris’s farm gross margin rise to a projected €860/ha for 2014.