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HomeBeefFather and daughter farming 575 ewes, 40 sucklers, 50 bullocks
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Father and daughter farming 575 ewes, 40 sucklers, 50 bullocks

Mixed farm in Roscommon

Father and daughter duo, Peadar and Aoife Coyle, farm a mixed enterprise spanning 230-acres near Curraghboy in South Roscommon.

The farm comprises 80-acres of owned land in one block, and the remaining 150-acres are rented ground.

The family have several enterprises on the farm, including:

  • A flock of 575 mid-season lambing ewes;
  • A 40-cow suckler to weanling system;
  • Lastly, a dairy calf-to-beef system, finishing 50 bullocks annually.

Over the past number of years, the sheep enterprise has had a scanning rate of 1.9 and a weaning rate of 1.7 lambs per ewe joined to the ram, with all lambs finished on-farm.

The father and daughter make up the bulk of the labour force, with other family members lending a hand during the busy periods of the year.

Maintaining optimal grazing infrastructure is a key element to the Coyle’s farm.

Excellent facilities enable good grassland management and reducing the labour requirement.

They have divided their 80-acre home farm into 17 permanent paddocks.

They do not measure grass on the farm, but instead, they manage it by eye and experience.

They remove heavy paddocks as baled silage, although this is rare due to the high stocking rate.

Furthermore, the Coyles are strong advocates for mixed grazing with cattle and sheep grazing together.

They claim they achieve better grass utilisation and animal performance compared to grazing separately.

The home block is heavily stocked at 2.6 LU/ha, with the 80-acres supporting 4 grazing groups consisting of 40 suckler cows and their calves and approximately 300 ewes with twin lambs.

They graze the remainder of the ewes and dairy beef animals on the out farms.

Finishing lambs and contract rearing ewe lambs

They finish all lambs on the farm, with grass making up most of the diet. They wean lambs at 14 weeks of age at an average of 32kg.

They weigh lambs fortnightly, which allows for frequent drafting across the summer months until October.

That is when they house all remaining lambs and offer them ad-lib concentrates until drafting for slaughter.

They ear notch all potential replacement ewe lambs at birth and retain the best performing 150 ewe lambs.

In August, they move 150 replacement ewe lambs off-farm to a contract rearer. They look after them until they return the following august as hoggets ready for the ram.

Soil fertility

Peadar is a firm believer in soil fertility and has made a “huge” effort to ensure it is optimised.

This is evident with approximately 80% of paddocks in index 3 or 4 for P & K. They soil sample the home farm every three years, and they spread lime accordingly to maintain a soil pH of 6.3 or above.

The Coyles are “keen” to optimise their nitrogen use efficiency through more targeted applications and including clover in grazing swards in the future.

Irish Grassland Association

This year’s IGA sheep conference – sponsored by Mullinahone Co-Op – will occur in the Hudson Bay Hotel, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, on May 19th.

The format will be similar to previous years, with an indoor conference in the morning followed by a farm walk in the afternoon.

The afternoon farm walk will take place on the Coyle’s farm.

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