This year’s Irish Grassland Association Beef Conference and Farm Walk “Healthy Soils, Healthy Cattle, Healthy Profit” sponsored by Dawn meats and Interchem will take place on Tuesday 18th of June. The conference takes place at the McWilliam Hotel, Claremorris followed by a farm walk on the farm of Michael Mellett, Shrule, Co. Mayo. This is a BTAP approved event.
This year’s event has a very exciting line up of speakers covering a range of topics. The conference will be chaired by Darren Carty (Irish Grassland Association and Irish Farmers Journal). It will consist of two sessions with two papers in each session, and there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion. The first session will deal with making the most out of wet land. James O’Loughlin (Teagasc, Moorepark) will present a paper on identifying drainage issues and to the options to rectify them. Local farmer, Michael Biggins will explain how he plans to improve some of the wetter parts of his farm and how he has gained better access to paddocks by installing a road network.
Growing and utilising large quantities of grass on farm are key components of profitable beef production systems, and this session should be very interesting as the last year has put a lot of pressure on farming on wetter land. The second session will deal with the area of weanling health. This session will consist of two papers, with Dr. Bernadette Earley from Teagasc presenting the latest research from Grange and there will also be a practical paper on weanling health.
In the afternoon, delegates will visit the farm of Michael Mellett in Shrule. Michael farms in Shrule, Co. Mayo and operates a store to finish system, finishing about 120 cattle on 100 ac. Suckler-bred cattle are purchased at about 470 kg and finished as steers at 24 to 28 months. A key objective of Michael’s system is to achieve a high proportion of liveweight gain on the farm from grazed grass; this requires very high levels of grassland management which will be highlighted during the farm walk. A rotational grazing system, managed within traditional stone walled paddocks, ensures that cattle are provided with excellent quality grass at all times. Early spring grazing is made possible by close attention to autumn grassland management, and Michael typically turns out cattle in February/March. To ensure that liveweight targets are met at each stage in the production cycle, routine weighing of cattle is carried out on Michael’s farm. Key performance figures will be given on the day and there will also be a demonstration on producing and selecting steers that meet market requirements (carcass weight and fat cover). Grass-fed steer beef systems remain the main beef production system on Irish cattle farms so this farm walk will be of great interest.
The number of delegate places for this event is limited, therefore early booking is advised. Admission will be by registration only. Register online by Tuesday 11th June to avail of pre-paid discounts of up to 25%. Discounted registration costs €30 for Irish Grassland Association members and €70 for non- members (which includes one year’s membership FREE to the Irish Grassland Association for all new d/d memberships). Registration fee includes refreshments on arrival, two course dinner, conference proceedings, and bus transfers to and from the farm.