|Purchasing top quality Charolais stock bulls pays dividends for Teagasc Better Beef Farmer
James Madigan is a Teagasc better beef farmer from Derrynahinch, Ballyhale Co. Kilkenny. He is a part time farmer who runs 80 suckler cows with two high terminal index Charolais stock bulls. The system in place on the farm is calf-beef with males being finished as steers at 22-24 months and heifers being finished at 22 months. Cow type on the farm is focused on functionality, milk and fertility. Limousin/Simmental and Charolais cross cows very closely linked to the dairy herd are the main cow types on the farm. The potent mixture of these breeding type females and James’s two high profile Charolais stock bulls is really reaping rewards.
In 2007 James purchased his present senior herd sire ‘Dreena Andy’ at an Irish Charolais Cattle Society sale in Tullamore for the top price on the day of €5200. Sired by ‘CF 52’ out of a ‘Jupiter’ dam, Andy has breed nothing short of exceptional since his arrival. So much so that James is very reluctant to part with his eldest stock bull. With an increase in cow numbers James decided to purchase a second stock bull back in 2011. It resulted in him securing ‘Gallaway Farouk’ a first prize winner at the Christmas cracker sale for €7200. Sired by the well-known ‘Major’ out of a ‘Meillard’ dam, Farouk has surpassed all expectations with regards easy calving and calf performance.
Being a part time farmer easy calving is a real “must” for James in a stock bull and both Charolais bulls have really delivered on this. James explained he calves his first time heifers at 30 months without any problems to the ‘Gallaway Farouk’ bull. The figures are there to back this up with only 2.6% of cows in the herd recorded as having a difficult calving in the years 2013-2014, compared to the national average which is 3.9% within herds. Mortality at birth in the years 2013-2014 was 1.3% within the herd, compared to the national average of 4.7%.
Some might say it is difficult to maintain calf quality, performance and easy calving, well James Madigan is one that does just that. The average daily live weight gain of the 2014 spring born bulls and heifers was 1.24kg/day from birth. The average weight of the 2012 autumn born steers was 695kgs when they were weighed before finishing on the 21st of August 2014 giving them an average daily live weight gain of .89kg/day from birth. The average weight of the 2012 autumn born heifers was 623kgs when they were weighed on the 28th of June 2014 giving them an average daily live weight gain of .85kg/day from birth.
In 2013 James had a gross margin of €720/ha on his farm and aims to have a gross margin in the region of €900/ha in 2015. The cross of James’s two outstanding Charolais stock bulls and his highly functional cows is most definitely a huge part of the jigsaw that is playing such a vital role.