Declan Rafferty manages a suckler herd near Pomeroy, County Tyrone in partnership with brother-in-law Aidan Quinn. The farm comprises of 100 Simmental-cross, Limousine-cross, Stabiliser and Aberdeen Angus cows and currently hosts 56 hectares which is split into 5 land blocks with variant soil types. The herd has expanded from 30 suckler cows to 100 over the years. Declan comments, “All stock on the farm are home bred which enables us to sell replacements as we have built up enough cow numbers.”
70% of the herd are Spring calving, whilst the other 30% are due to calve in the Autumn.
The Spring calving cows are housed in September and back out mid March, whilst the Autumn cows are housed mid October and back out again at the end of April. The herd is fed all silage with a restricted diet from housing until the point of calving.
Declan is also a member of various farming programmes across Northern Ireland, including Grass Check for the last two years and the Northern Ireland Suckler Beef Programme for the last 6 years, both of which have assisted Declan in promoting more efficient grassland management. Declan highlights, “We are now currently just short of 11 tonne of grass per hectare. We normally aim for 70 percent D-Value and 30 percent dry matter. These particular programmes have greatly encouraged us to utilise grass as much as we can, which has resulted in increased stocking rate along with a tight calving pattern, not to mention a more efficient, successfully run farm longer term.”
Cattle Identification as a means of Performance Tracking
Declan stresses that accurate cattle identification as well as precise performance tracking are two paramount factors when running his farm. In search of a tag that provides a system for detailed performance recording and analysis, Declan highlights, “I use the Caisley Electronic tag for my enterprise as it is vital for me to identify certain objectives including routine weighing. We weigh the bulls once a month and weigh all stock 5 times annually. The Caisley Electronic tag allows me to record and determine target growth weights, and with this information I am able to implement feeding regimes to suit the cattle. Another benefit of the EID tag is that it allows me to quickly identify any health problems related to weight loss. Along with the EID reader, this tag provides us with vital information and is a very simple way to keep track of performance growth with reduced paperwork required.”
Declan also gives emphasis to the design of the Caisley tag when collecting the ear tissue sample. He comments, “We find the Caisley tags are great for BVD sampling due to ease of application. The fact that the EID feature and BVD test comes equipped in the one tag results in a much more convenient tagging process saving both time and hassle. The single strip feature on the Caisley tag also prevents mishaps or mistakes when tagging the calves.”
Cattle Tag Supplier
Declan purchases his Caisley Electronic tags from Countryside Services Limited and comments, “Whenever I have any queries surrounding the Caisley Electronic tag or any animal identification tag in general, the professional team at Countryside Services are very helpful indeed and give specialist advice. Additionally, the tags are either posted out within a short time or ready to be collected within a few hours.” Declan continues, “With Countryside Services now having an onsite BVD testing lab in Dungannon it is much more convenient for me, not to mention the quick turnaround on the BVD results.”
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