Joe and John Atkinson, a Wexford-based father-and-son-duo, farm 80 spring-calving cows and lamb 250 mid-season ewes.
James Doran, drystock advisor, Teagasc Enniscorthy, recently visited the thriving enterprise to receive an insight into how the family are achieving remarkable breeding figures, using natural service and all terminal stock bulls.
They made a decision to move to all terminal sires five years ago. Sires are selected based on a terminal €uro-star ratings of €150 or greater, high carcass and conformation traits, short gestation and relatively low calving difficulty figures for beef cows and heifers.
The suckler farmers source up to twenty autumn-born dairy-bred heifers locally on an annual basis; they calve down between 26-27-months of age.
“For the last number of years, our calving interval has been 350 and 370 days, with calves per cow per year between 1 and 1.05 and a 0% mortality rate.”
“The calving spread has slipped slightly this year to eighteen weeks, due to a small number of cows having twins.”
The target is to have them a calving spread under fourteen weeks in 2021 with stock bulls being removed from the herd shortly.
“Our compact calving allows our January, February and March-born heifers to be killed at 18-20-months at 320-360kgs deadweight,” Joe explained.
“Our compact calving also allows us to finish all our male-born calves under 16 months as bulls; they go [are slaughtered] from May until July,” John concluded.
Image source: Teagasc Wexford Wicklow Carlow Facebook