Farmer hosts a BDG meeting

Gareth Beacom (left), Beef and Sheep Development Adviser, CAFRE and Christopher McNeill Ballygawley, discuss winter feeding management for his suckler herd.
Gareth Beacom (left), Beef and Sheep Development Adviser, CAFRE and Christopher McNeill Ballygawley, discuss winter feeding management for his suckler herd.

A recent Business Development Group (BDG) meeting was held at Christopher McNeill’s farm, Ballygawley.

Since joining his local BDG in April 2016, which is made up of suckler beef producers, Christopher has made many improvements to his farm.

He has moved to 100% Artificial Insemination (AI) allowing the use of elite genetics as well as setting up a paddock grazing system which has allowed him to increase his stocking rate.

In the last two years Christopher has increased cow numbers from 27 to 36 and intends to increase numbers further to 40 cows next year.

At the most recent BDG meeting, held on Christopher’s farm at the end of November, he shared his experiences of using DIY AI as well as his winter management of the cows. Cows are Body Condition Scored (BCS) and silage is restricted in order to prevent cows getting over fat prior to calving. Spring calving cows should be in BCS of 2.5 pre calving. Over-fat cows (BCS 3.5+) are more prone to calving difficulties while thin cows (BCS 2 or less) may have a lower milk yield and experience reduced subsequent fertility. Christopher’s cows are divided and fed according to their BCS when housed. This will mean that thin cows are not competing against more fit cows for silage and also gives an opportunity to feed thin cows meal in order to meet their desired BCS at calving.