Raymond Palmer on his farm in County Donegal

Raymond Palmer is a suckler cow farmer based in the Finn Valley, Co. Donegal. He farms just over 20 hectares, as a grass-based paddock system. At present, he runs 34 suckler cows with a Charolais stock bull, with a total of 84 head of cattle on the holding. The cows are a mix of Limousin, Charolais and Simmental crosses. Raymond admits “I have always used a Charolais stock bull, as well as Charolais AI, as my main terminal sire, as I find them the best with regards weight for age and conformation”.


A typical Charolais cross heifer at Palmer’s

Most of the young cattle on the farm are progeny of a Fiston bred stock bull, who bred exceptionally well for Raymond. Calving ease with terrific growth rates and quality, all packed into one. The bull before this was a Blelack Digger son, who was purchased at the Christmas Cracker Bull Sale from fellow Donegal man, Noel Maxwell. A bull that proved himself as a tremendous breeder and left some some outstanding daughters.

Charolais cross weanling heifers on the farm

The farm consistently produces U and R grade cattle, which are highly sought after by returning customers every year. Bull calves are sold at 11 months of age to a beef finisher, averaging between 460kg to 500kg. Heifers are mostly sold as forward stores at approximately 18 months of age, although some are finished on the farm, if it is more profitable after budgeting.

A selection of Charolais cross weanling bulls at grass this summer

In the past, the farm has won the Bord Bia Weanling Producer of the year award, as well as being a Teagasc benchmark farm for a number of years, hosting numerous regional and national farm walks. This year the herd came third in large herd category of the Society’s Suckler Herds Competition against some fantastic weanling operations.

Charolais cross heifers on the farm

In 2022 the herd had an average calving interval of 372 days. The number of calves produced per cow on the farm stood at 1.03, putting the herd in the top 1% nationally. Mortality at birth during the same period was 0%, both at birth and at 28 days. Just over 80% of the Spring calving cows calved within 6 weeks. A similar figure was achieved with the Autumn calvers.

More Charolais cross weanling bulls at grass

The beef output per hectare on the farm in 2022 was a whopping 847kgs, with a stocking rate of 2.7 Livestock units per hectare achieved. Incredible performance figures matched with fantastic cattle. This Donegal farm is a truly outstanding suckler enterprise. Efficient, sustainable, and most importantly, economical. If you would like to increase the output from your herd, come along to this Saturday’s Christmas Cracker Sale in Elphin, where there will be 88 top quality bulls on offer. A catalogue for the sale can be found here –