Beef Walk Ballinrobe Mayo


Event Date: Tuesday 11th of June 2024 11:59:59 PM
Event Location: 6-8.30pm East Ballinrobe Mayo F12PR23


This year’s IGA Beef Event will take place on the farm of Martin and Caroline Shaughnessy, on the 11th of June. Martin runs a suckler-to-weaning system, while also lambing approximately 150 ewes – a typical suckler and sheep operation in the west of Ireland.

The farm, which is located east of Ballinrobe town, Co. Mayo (Eircode F12PR23), consists of 27.64ha of owned and rented, good-quality ground. Originally starting off with a Simmental-type cow, Martin now runs a herd of 16 three-quarter-bred Limousin dams mated to Belgian Blue sires each year. Maiden heifers are crossed back to Limousin genetics, while sexed semen was also introduced in 2023.

Martin – who also works part-time in local Aurivo marts – moved away from using a stock bull in the early 2000’s; he now uses 100% AI with the aim of breeding males for the export market and females for the domestic trade.
The sheep enterprise consists of Suffolk and Texel-cross ewes – split lambing at the start of February and then again around St. Patrick’s day each year. The ewes are sychronised to leave the management during lambing easier. Lambs are sold through the South-Mayo Lamb Producer Group.

The suckler system is quite simple – a herd of top-quality E and U-grade cows capable of calving a top-quality calf and the ability to feed that calf with an abundance of milk. Also, that cow must calve every 365 days – a calving interval of 363 days was achieved in 2023/2024.

Calving starts on January 1st annually with all cows calved by the end of March. Top-quality grass is introduced at the end of March when the pairings are turned out for the year. While this might be considered late, early spring grass is prioritised for the early lambing ewes.

The cattle rotationally graze a 10-12 ac block on the home farm which is laid out in paddocks under a leader-follower system. The calves graze ahead of the cows allowing them to utilise quality, leafy grass before the cows. This also allows Martin to introduce meal prior to weaning. In 2023, average 200-day weights stood at 315 kg for the males, while the females weighed 271kg at that stage.

An early application of protected urea is applied where possible. As Martin needs to prioritise grass early on in the year, first-cut silage is aimed for early June, with Martin closing paddocks which go too strong for grazing throughout the grazing season – providing a top-quality winter feed source.

Second-cut silage generally takes place in July. The farm grew 10.6 t DM/ha in 2023 – well above the national average quantity grown on Irish drystock farms. Slurry is also spread in spring at a rate of 3,000 gals/ac.

Most of the machinery work is contracted out – allowing the Mayo-based farmer to focus on other important tasks around the farm.

With his relatively small herd of cows, Martin definitely operates at the higher end of the market for both males and females. In 2023, his average price for both males and females stood a €1,700/head – an impressive price for weanlings weighing between 300-400kg.

Martin is also involved in the Teagasc Agricultural Catchments Programme – with the farm located in the Cregduff catchment.

This is a national event and all farmers from across Ireland are very welcome to attend. The event will deliver key learnings for suckler farmers and indeed sheep farmers.

This free event is very kindly sponsored by FBD Insurance. Flame grilled burgers available at 6:00 pm sharp for those who wish to arrive early and the event will get underway at 6:30 pm sharp and finish at 8:30 pm.