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4 suckler farmers making the most of technology

CAFRE has now established a network of Technology Demonstration Farms throughout Northern Ireland.

This initiative aims to increase the rate of technology adoption on Northern Ireland farms, writes Natasha Ferguson, Beef Technologist, CAFRE.

When current restrictions ease groups of farmers will be invited to visit these farms and find out about the latest technologies and innovations in place.

The Technology Demonstration Farm Scheme is part of the NI Rural Development Programme and is funded by DAERA and the EU.

This short article will provide a brief introduction to the four Beef Fertility Theme Technology Demonstration Farms.

TDF Fertility Farm No 1 – David Henderson, Tamlaght, Co. Fermanagh

The Henderson family run a herd comprising of approximately 90 suckler cows predominantly Simmental, Limousin and Shorthorn cross on 235 acres. The herd has a calving index of 375 days and reappearance rate of 71%.
Key Farm Highlights:

  • Three breed cross-breeding system to maximise calf performance;
  • Breeding decisions based on performance recorded stock bulls while being mindful of the myostatin gene;
  • Cows scanned six weeks post-breeding with all embryos sexed.

TDF Fertility Farm No 2 – Douglas McKenzie, Moy, Co. Tyrone

The McKenzie family are calving 90 suckler cows predominantly the Aubrac breed on 190 acres.
Key Farm Highlights:

  • Stock bulls and AI breeding techniques used to maximise genetic gain in the herd;
  • Percentage of replacement heifers are AI’d with sexed semen;
  • Herd health programme using blood mineral profiles to determine mineral deficiencies.

TDF Fertility Farm No 3 – Oliver McKenna, Eskra, Co. Tyrone

The McKenna family run an autumn and spring calving herd comprising of 60 suckler cows on 88 acres. The herd has a calving index of 382 days.

Key Farm Highlights:

  • One hundred per cent AI usage within the herd;
  • Using genetic data and performance recorded sires to enhance breeding decisions;
  • Strict replacement heifer selection.

TDF Fertility Farm No 4 – John Egerton, Roslea, Co. Fermanagh

The Egerton family run an autumn and spring calving herd comprising of approximately 90 suckler cows on 183 acres. The herd has a calving index of 371 days.Key

Farm Highlights:

  • One hundred per cent AI breeding system;
  • Heat detection collars used with a teaser bull to detect cows on heat;
  • Handling facilities developed to enable one person to move cattle for AI insemination;
  • Breeding is focused on maternal characteristics.

Each of the above farmers are passionate about improving suckler cow fertility within their herds through the use of selective breeding, improved animal health and rigorous data collection and are keen to share these with everyone.

The following technologies will be demonstrated on each of the selected farms:

  • Pre-breeding health check of the breeding herd;
  • Heat detection systems;
  • Pregnancy diagnosis;
  • Herd health plan;
  • Sire selection.

It is anticipated that each farm will host between eight and twelve visits for groups of between five and twenty-five farmers. However, due to the current COVID 19 pandemic, this will be kept under review.

For further information in relation to Technology Demonstration Farms please contact CAFRE KT admin on 028 9442 6790 or E-mail: kt.admin@daera-ni.gov.uk

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