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UGS Spring Farm Visit 2024

Event Details

  • Date: 30 Apr 2024
  • Venue: Dunloy
  • Time: 11:00
  • Ticket includes: BBQ Lunch

The Ulster Grassland Society’s Spring Meeting took place recently at the farm of Robert Beattie and Sons, Garryduff Road, Dunloy, Co Antrim when over 150 members and fellow grassland enthusiasts were in attendance

Despite the inclement weather members and friends from all over Northern Ireland and further afield enjoyed an excellent visit to see this progressive dairy farm where the objectives are to:

– manage soils to maximise potential

– use best advice to inform management decisions

– maintain focus on animal health & performance

Visitors enjoyed a cup of tea/coffee before being welcomed by Ulster Grassland Society President John Egerton who introduced the Beattie family to the assembled crowd.
There have been six generations on this family farm which has focused on dairying for the past 35 years. The farm extends to over 300 acres and lies  between 475-550’ above sea level.

The Holstein dairy herd of 180 cows presently yields 9,960 litres and 745 kgs milk solids per cow – Butterfat 4.09% and Protein 3.33%. Meal fed per cow is 3,850 litres with a Margin Over Concentrates of £1,820 achieved. The herd replacement rate is 28% with around 120 replacements also on the farm.

Cows are normally turned out in mid April and managed in two groups – High yielders housed during the grazing season whilst Low yielders are grazed full time throughout the summer (cows move between groups over the summer). Target pre-grazing covers are 3,000-4,300 kg DM/Ha with a strip fence used to allocate grazing.

The Beattie’s aim for three cuts of silage with the silage acreage reduced after each cut. Grass is mowed with a conditioner and tedded with contractors bringing harvester, rake and tow tractors & trailers. Additive is normally applied with cut grass to be clamped within 24-48 hours.

Last year the first cut silage was made on 15th May with Dry Matter 33%; Crude Protein 13.5%; D-value 69 and ME of 11 MJ/Kg

First cut silage gets 34mof slurry per acre with 65kg N/ha with reduced slurry applications for subsequent cuts along with reduced levels of Nitrogen.

Soils are tested every two years with Lime, P and K applied to relevant fields as required. Presently 92% of the farm has a pH of over 6.1.

Extensive use is made of sexed semen particularly on maiden heifers (FTAI)  and selected cows with a beef sweeper bull used on heifers and beef semen on everything else. The herd calves between September and April with around 70% calved by 31st December. Genetic bulls are used on maiden heifers with proven sires used in the cow herd with bulls selected on high PLI and particular focus on milk solids, fertility and type merit. Bulls used in 2023/24 include Maserati-P; Crosby and Achiever. The present calving interval is 381 days.

Colin Bolton from Grassland Agro also spoke on the management and nutrition of soils with plenty of discussion from visitors attending the farm walk

At the conclusion of the visit a vote of thanks to the Beattie family was proposed by UGS President Elect Michael Graham before visitors enjoyed an excellent lunch prepared by Simply Irresistible before heading for home and the opportunity to reflect on an enjoyable and informative visit.