How sexed semen is proving a good option to replace reproduction for this Roscommon farmer

I scanned the 12 replacement heifers on July 14, and 10 are pregnant. It’s 83pc in the calf, so I’m pretty happy with the results.

used all AI, and sexed semen was used on seven heifers; nine sexed semen straws were used, as two heifers repeated. Six of these seven are in calfskin.

If they all keep, I’m guaranteed to have at least six heifers from the sexed semen trial, which is enough for the size of my herd.

The rearing of these heifers began on May 6 and ended on June 11, so the calvings will be beautiful and compact next year.

As I now use a terminal Charolais bull in my herd, using sexed semen is an option for breeding replacements from a herd of my size.

Purchasing a replacement bull could not be justified, and finding suitable heifers in the markets that will calve at two years old is also a challenge.

With more choices of sexed seed bulls to come, this is an option I will consider again next year.

The two empty heifers were weighed and they weighed an average of 450 kg. These were removed and I put them with the remaining 10 heifers from the store that I plan to slaughter at the end of the year or just sell grass.

To finish on the breeding side, the Charolais bull was withdrawn on July 15 from the main herd. The cows will be scanned in September, but it looks like I won’t need all 10 replacements, so I will consider selling some of these heifers in foal later.

We returned from our family vacation on July 12th. It’s good to get away but it’s also good to come home. Luckily for me, my eldest son Aaron stayed home to tend to the farm and everything went well.

Grass is something that can easily get out of hand when you’re away, but my grass measurement on July 15 revealed that the average crop cover (AFC) on the main grazing block is on target at 861 kgDM/ha .

Last week’s growth was 49 kgDM/ha, and with a demand of 45kgDM/ha there are 19 days of grass ahead, which is ideal for this time of year.

On a heavy farm like mine, grass growth should increase significantly at high temperatures.

Although there is a lot of grass at the moment, I intend to apply 18 units/acre of protected urea plus sulfur to paddocks (16ac) that have been recently grazed and have no did not receive fertilizer in the last round.

If I don’t, the grass won’t recover here and I’m conscious of starting to make grass for the fall.

Protected urea is a great option as I can apply it in dry weather and it is the cheapest form of chemical nitrogen with the lowest emissions.

As calves get older, they eat a lot more grass. I bought two plastic horse stakes to prop up the electrical wire so the calves can graze while crawling in front of the cows.


Simple horse stakes that Shane uses for forward creeping grazing

Simple horse stakes that Shane uses for forward creeping grazing

It works and allows calves to have priority access to the best quality grass while restricting cows to the paddock they are in.

As I operate a bull system, it is critical that these calves continue to perform well and gain weight as their reliance on milk will now be less.

I will be introducing the meal next month as well. With the forward creep system I can use troughs instead of a creep feeder.

Although there is no evidence of coughing, I will be taking fecal samples from the calves next week. The samples will tell me if there is evidence of lungworms and gastric worms.

If there is, I will immediately dose with an ivermectin type injection.

Aside from the second-cut silage cut at the end of the month, July is generally quiet. This gives me time to improve the grazing infrastructure — for example, I divided the silage field into four paddocks, each 1.3 ha in size, enough for three days of grazing.

They are only temporary fences with coils, mats and can all be easily dismantled again for silage.

Shane Keaveney farms in Granlahan, Co Roscommon. His advisors are Charlie Devaney, Gabriel Trayers, Brian Daly