CAFRE Beef Grassland Technology Demonstration Farmer (TDF) Stephen Maguire from Congo, Maguiresbridge, Co Fermanagh is never one to let the grass grow under his feet.
Just over a year ago, he decided to go in a completely new direction, constructing a purpose-built calf house for 120 calves.
He undertook this as part of the ABP Blade Farming programme, an integrated contract farming operation dedicated to producing consistently high-quality beef.
ABP works closely with farmers through a range of initiatives to help them rear and finish cattle to a high specification for high-value markets. This business model helps farmers to reduce unnecessary costs and optimise cattle performance.
Why he joined the programme
Stephen said: “I decided to join the Blade programme for economic reasons and also for a better work-life balance.”
“While it has involved some adjustment to the new system, I now have my fourth batch of calves in the house. I am pleased with the progress to date. I have also been able to keep on 100 calves from the first three batches on the farm. My target is to be able to finish 100 cattle per year.”
Increasing stocking and profitability rates
He stated he is passionate about grassland farming. In addition, he has been able to increase stocking and profitability rates “significantly” over the past number of year as part of the Better Beef Challenge NI programme.
“I am also excited about being a TDF grassland management farmer. I am looking forward to having groups of farmers visit my farm again, whilst following health and safety guidelines for Covid 19.”
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the European Union fund the Business Development Groups Scheme and the establishment of Technology Demonstration Farms across Northern Ireland under the Innovation Technology Evaluation Demonstration (ITED) Scheme, as part of the Rural Development Programme.