FBD €uro-Star €200 Commercial-Beef Finalist – Organic suckler farmer striking a balance in Co. Kilkenny

Sean Treacy is an organic farmer who runs a suckler to beef system on 41ha near Thomastown Co. Kilkenny. The herd consists of 22 suckler cows and 27 steers. The overall herd Replacement Index has seen a gradual increase from €85 in 2015 to €107 in 2020. Sean has been an active HerdPlus member since 2017.

Key Performance Indicators

Replacement Index: Cows €107, Heifers €83, Calves €135

Calves/cow/year: 1.05

Calving interval: 361

6-week calving rate: 85%

Heifers calved 22-26 months: 100%

% AI usage: 100%

Most cows calve in March and April giving the herd a 6-week calving rate of 85%. Sean finds heat detection in the Summer months easier and his heat detection practice consists of watching the animals twice daily.

Sean strives to strike a balance between the replacement and terminal traits when selecting bulls. The traits most important for this herd easy calving, docility and a high carcass weight figure. Sean uses 100% AI and when making decisions on bulls he uses the ICBF Active Bull list. A firm favourite who has proven hugely successful in the herd is Fiston (FSZ).

When asked if he would continue with the rollover of BDGP 2021, Sean confirmed he would participate. He wants to “carry on as he is” and sees the benefits of the scheme. “It is important that farmers participate in every scheme that becomes available.” Based on his 2020 5 Year Trend Report, it is evident that the BDGP scheme is working, as his herd’s figures have been gradually improving year on year. All cows in the herd are now genotyped.

As part of the BEEP-S programme, Sean weighed his cows and calves and opted to compete fecal sampling and meal feeding as additional actions. The average cow liveweight is 650kg with an average weaning efficiency of 46%. The average 200-day weight was 365kg for females and 311kg for males.

It is important to Sean to reduce his carbon footprint by breeding animals that can be finished at 18/19 months. To date, this has been working very successfully on the farm. In terms of nutrient management, as Sean is an organic farmer, he only spreads farmyard manure. This is all spread in late Autumn. Sean is participating in the GLAS scheme and keeps hedges for wildlife while also providing shelter to the weanlings that are outwintered.

Sean grows oats and barley so doesn’t need to purchase feed for cattle. He also supplies oats to Flahavans.

“Some years can be luckier than others” but Sean aims to turn animals out to grass as early as possible.

It is clear from the Key Performance Indicators listed above that Sean’s current breeding strategy is working effectively and will continue to make strides into the future.