18 months after hosting his last farm walk, CAFRE Technology Demonstration Farmer (TDF), John Egerton, recently opened his suckler beef farm’s gates to the public once again.
The group, accompanied by their CAFRE beef and sheep adviser, Gareth Beacom, not only viewed his spring and autumn-calving cows but also got the opportunity to see his ABP blade calf rearing enterprise and a prolific sheep flock.
John carries a high stocking rate of 2.66 CE/HA. This includes 90 suckler cows (45 spring-calving and 45 autumn-calving), 220 maternal-bred ewes and a batch of dairy heifers on a contract rearing agreement.
Backed up with his up-to-date benchmarking reports, the group soon got to work investigating the many factors behind John’s excellent suckler beef gross margin of £1220 per hectare (approximately €1,420).
100% AI and heat detection
He has been 100% AI on his farm for over 20 years and discussed several management techniques he has used to aid this.
At present, John uses Moocall heat detection ear tags, which gives peace of mind and frees up time. Therefore, he does not have to monitor cows closely.
He also maintains a tight calving period and achieves, on average, a 90% hold rate in the first two cycles, which aids management both for breeding and calving.
Grassland management was a hot talking point given the challenges this year has thrown at farmers.
John measures grass, records growth on Agrinet and through this programme, he knows the daily grass requirements of his stock.
All this information then gives him the confidence to make the best decisions around grazing and take out paddocks for silage if required.
As well as the high levels of stockmanship and management on display, it was John’s foresight and succession planning, which was one of the key take-home messages for many.
John has a plan for all 3 of his sons to take over an enterprise each on the farm.
Work is ongoing to increase these enterprises’ size to make them financially viable for each son.
John added: “Succession planning is something that needs to be discussed openly on all farms.”
“Young people should be encouraged to farm and given the opportunity to do so. They might make mistakes, but it is all part of the learning curve.”
We recently featured a 100-cow suckler farmer in Northern Ireland, who has invested in West of Ireland-bred cattle to move towards compact calving for ease of management.