|“My 51 Charolais weanlings made me €64,000”
John Joe Doyle from Cullenagh, Portlaoise, Co. Laois is a suckler farmer who completely contradicts the notion that suckler farming is not viable today in Ireland. In 2013 John Joe sold 51 charolais weanlings for a total sum of €64,000. That works out at an astonishing average of €1255 per weanling. John Joe keeps a mixed herd of 55 suckler cows which is divided between spring and autumn calving. There are no replacements reared on the farm, all calves are sold as weanlings. Cull cows are replaced with bought in cows annually. He always runs a charolais bull with his herd, simply because he wants top prices for his weanlings.
The stock bull on the farm is Dromiskin Ceaser, a ‘CF 52’ son out of ‘Mogador’ dam. He was purchased at the Irish Charolais Cattle Society’s premier show and sale in Tullamore in April 2008. At only 13 months old, Ceaser sold for €6200. Today John Joe describes the progeny out of his bull as tremendous and is overwhelmed with the type of stock his bull is producing. Ceaser who will be turning 7 year old this year, is as good today as he was the day he was purchased. John Joe reflected on two of Ceaser’s first calves which were out of two pedigree Simmental cows that belonged to a neighbour. “Both calves were slaughtered at 13 months old; one graded an E3 and killed out at 810kgs live weight. The other graded a U3 and killed out at 790kgs live weight.” This works out a phenomenal average daily live weight gain of 1.9kg/head/day. Year after year since, Ceaser continues to produce weanlings with outstanding weight for age. “I only feed my spring born weanlings for about 6 weeks before being sold. My autumn weanlings get some meal before being let out to grass in spring, and again for about 6 weeks before being sold. Their performance at grass and daily live weight gains is just amazing.”
Ceaser is a 5 star Terminal Index bull with an index value of €138. He has five stars for docility, carcass conformation and carcass weight. He has a calving value of 11.9%, yet John Joe describes his bull as an ‘average calving sire’. A major part of John Joe’s success is in the management of his cows before calving. Spring calving cows are put on a restricted silage/hay diet with plenty of pre-calving minerals. Autumn calvers are grouped together in paddocks and put on a restricted diet of grass/hay with once again plenty of pre-calving minerals. John Joe could not emphasise enough the importance of minerals to his cows before calving. ‘Keeping cows in good working order, not over conditioned, with plenty of minerals, are major factors in preparing cows for calving that many of us disregard.”