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Hobby

  • 15-03-2020 11:05pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭ trg


    All, my dad tips away with the main farming business. It's a small enough 30 cow suckler farm and keeps him busy. Its not overly commercial really but I like doing the little bit i do and he likes things as they are.

    I've 3 kids and something bothering me lately is that they can't go next nor near the farm as the stock are too dangerous I think. They're 5 & 6 and when I was their age I was mad about being on farm, loved it. Especially the calves. At the time it was a dairy farm and there wasn't near as much danger as there is now.

    What I'd love to do is have a go at is rearing a few calves with the kids, thinking maybe 5 calves from a dairy herd on the assumption they'll be quite and docile to human contact.

    I'm trying to see will it instill a bit of a grá in the kids for the farming. Maybe it won't and so be it if not but one thing for sure is it won't happen as is. It just can't in my opinion due to danger.

    So my questions to you all centre around practicalities of this plan....

    Best breed to buy?

    Best brand of milk replacer?

    How many acres to set aside for the famous 5? Mid April before most stock get out around here.

    Any thoughts and opinions welcome. This is a hobby, I'm not overly concerned about the cost.


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Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,633 ✭✭✭✭ Buford T. Justice XIX


    trg wrote: »
    All, my dad tips away with the main farming business. It's a small enough 30 cow suckler farm and keeps him busy. Its not overly commercial really but I like doing the little bit i do and he likes things as they are.

    I've 3 kids and something bothering me lately is that they can't go next nor near the farm as the stock are too dangerous I think. They're 5 & 6 and when I was their age I was mad about being on farm, loved it. Especially the calves. At the time it was a dairy farm and there wasn't near as much danger as there is now.

    What I'd love to do is have a go at is rearing a few calves with the kids, thinking maybe 5 calves from a dairy herd on the assumption they'll be quite and docile to human contact.

    I'm trying to see will it instill a bit of a grá in the kids for the farming. Maybe it won't and so be it if not but one thing for sure is it won't happen as is. It just can't in my opinion due to danger.

    So my questions to you all centre around practicalities of this plan....

    Best breed to buy?

    Best brand of milk replacer?

    How many acres to set aside for the famous 5? Mid April before most stock get out around here.

    Any thoughts and opinions welcome. This is a hobby, I'm not overly concerned about the cost.

    Any breed will be quiet when they're being fed by hand but friesian bulls might be the best bet. They're reasonably priced so they won't take a large sum of money to buy and they are a quiet breed overall.

    Angus or hereford calves will be a lot dearer but still quiet while the continental breeds will be dearer still and maybe not as quiet. Limousins I would tend to stay away from for what you're looking for.

    An acre of ground would be more than enough for them for most of the year especially if you can fence it off into maybe 4 plots and rotate them through the 4 plots as needed? The will need a bit more when they get older though.

    Milk replacer would be whatever would be on sale locally, really. The dearer ones tend to be easier mixed but all will be grand once used with warm water.

    Best of luck with it and keep us posted on how you get on.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,479 ✭✭✭ mayota


    trg wrote: »
    All, my dad tips away with the main farming business. It's a small enough 30 cow suckler farm and keeps him busy. Its not overly commercial really but I like doing the little bit i do and he likes things as they are.

    I've 3 kids and something bothering me lately is that they can't go next nor near the farm as the stock are too dangerous I think. They're 5 & 6 and when I was their age I was mad about being on farm, loved it. Especially the calves. At the time it was a dairy farm and there wasn't near as much danger as there is now.

    What I'd love to do is have a go at is rearing a few calves with the kids, thinking maybe 5 calves from a dairy herd on the assumption they'll be quite and docile to human contact.

    I'm trying to see will it instill a bit of a grá in the kids for the farming. Maybe it won't and so be it if not but one thing for sure is it won't happen as is. It just can't in my opinion due to danger.

    So my questions to you all centre around practicalities of this plan....

    Best breed to buy?

    Best brand of milk replacer?

    How many acres to set aside for the famous 5? Mid April before most stock get out around here.

    Any thoughts and opinions welcome. This is a hobby, I'm not overly concerned about the cost.

    30 sucklers is a bit more than a hobby. I’d educate the children about the dangers of stock and keep them supervised at all times, bucket fed calves might confuse things. Get the cows used to seeing small children as they can see them as a threat.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,717 ✭✭✭ amacca


    I would add

    You will probably need

    Straw for bedding

    Some sort of shed or shelter maybe a large hutch to put the straw and the calves in

    Optional but may not be a bad idea to vaccinate them ... cheapest would be rispoval intranasal I think (bovipast better but more expensive and requires a booster shot etc) + maybe blackleg (although I have never needed to do that here)...i suppose you could risk the vaccinations depending on housing, pasture they will be in but if it goes wrong it will probably be a vet visit etc

    Then you will need to consider dehorning them or getting them dehorned fairly sharpish unless they are angus or angus x which only grow butts of horns....i use a crate and a gas dehorner but if you get them when they are young you can restrain them with a headgate and use an electric dehorner and they barely notice.

    Squeezing early on is a good idea if you don't want to have to call a vet to do it later

    If you are thinking of bucket feeding its O.K but not the greatest imo......a good teat feeder is best imo but there are a lot of bad ones out there, if it was me from experience I would go for a Wydale (blue feeder) or a milkbar (you can change the type of teat on them) but they are more expensive than the other ones which all have design flaws that will drive you nuts if you work with them for a while---expensive though...you might pick up the five calves for nearly the price of a 5 teat blue feeder the way things are going!.....remember you will probably be feeding twice a day for the first couple of weeks and imo if you are just starting out it might be safest to keep that up for quite some time although I switch them to OAD after about 5 weeks (I know others that claim to do it sooner but they have the benefit of whole milk/having them from birth etc)...a single teat bottle feeder would be very useful if there is one that is sluggish to drink or one that needs to be isolated because it gets sick......a stomach tube is worst case scenario here

    Which brings me to the calves, If it is friesians you go for try get a blocky type british friesian ......if you end up with anything narrow feeding them will be a waste of time from the point of view of not making too much of a loss at this (although I know you have a different motivation for doing it)...if it was me Id go for angus and expect to pay between 120 - 150 a head...but if you could get a good type friesian between 50 - 80 then that would be better (assuming they really are a decent blocky sort and not extreme holstein)....do not for your own mental health get calves that are just off a cow....if they are already sucking a teat feeder thats an immediate reduction in hardship...they will look lovely just off a cow but will in some cases be utter hardship to encourage to drink from a teat particularly headstrong breeds and the condition will melt off them initially as the replacer won't be as good as whole milk .. you can see better what you are getting if they are already being teat fed....when you are buying a teat fed animal look at coat too..should be shiny and healthy if fed and bed well.


    When it comes to milk replacer do yourself a favour and buy decent quality stuff (there may only be a few euro in the difference anyway) ...you want something with high % protein, skim based if possible and you want to work your way over the course of 3/4 days after getting them up to about 80% of max feeding rates for their age.....then close to max (for their age) over the next week ...I tend not to bump it up overly after that and instead provide fresh crunch (in small amounts at first) water and bit of straw to get their rumen going........start weaning slowly after week 7/8 to week 10/11/12 depending on how they are going...I provide ad lib crunch at that stage using an ad lib feeder ......if the weather is good they can be let out then, you can do it before if the weather is good.....on the milk replacer avoid anything with too much whey or palm or coconut...total hardship with scours with some of the calves

    As they grow older you will need to get more acres obviously and consider what the will need for winter feed.....good luck, at five calves its very manageable and the kids will probably enjoy it no end.


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,650 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves


    There is a video series on calf rearing on agriland. Scroll through here and you will get to them
    https://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/category/green-acres/

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,709 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    If they're 5 & 6 go for pet lambs instead.
    Easier manage.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭ trg


    mayota wrote: »
    30 sucklers is a bit more than a hobby. I’d educate the children about the dangers of stock and keep them supervised at all times, bucket fed calves might confuse things. Get the cows used to seeing small children as they can see them as a threat.
    Never said 30 cows was a hobby. The hobby is the few calves. I don't agree it'll confuse them.

    They're well educated regards the danger of our suckler cows.

    Don't have enough time to invest in getting cows used to seeing the kids enough. Can't watch them, the stock and do the work properly. It would take months imho.

    By the time they'd have sense enough they'd have no interest.

    I might be wrong.


  • Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭ trg


    If they're 5 & 6 go for pet lambs instead.
    Easier manage.

    You're right no doubt but I've zero experience of sheep.


  • Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭ trg


    Thanks Bass, Buford & Amacca. Be used to the blackleg and dehorning jobs alright but cheers for the reminder, tasks to add.

    I'll let ye know the progress


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,479 ✭✭✭ mayota


    trg wrote: »
    Never said 30 cows was a hobby. The hobby is the few calves. I don't agree it'll confuse them.

    They're well educated regards the danger of our suckler cows.

    Don't have enough time to invest in getting cows used to seeing the kids enough. Can't watch them, the stock and do the work properly. It would take months imho.

    By the time they'd have sense enough they'd have no interest.

    I might be wrong.

    Sorry, I didn’t read your post properly. I meant when the cows are in the shed and you and children can be in feed passages. Yourself and children could see calves in creep area in safety also.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,709 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    trg wrote: »
    You're right no doubt but I've zero experience of sheep.

    Ye''ll learn together then. :pac:

    Every youngster deserves to hold a bottle feeding a lamb.
    Don't take this the wrong way but it was covered above. You get calves and if you've not much experience of rearing them your heart could be broken with scour and ibr and what not and bringing in other things that your father's herd may not be vaccinated for and could be an expensive lesson for all involved.

    Get lambs and the youngsters can feed them themselves and cuddle and play with. They won't be able to that with calves. It'll be you that'll have the job of minding them. You'll have to mind the lambs too but it's a lessor amount of mixed milk and feed needed and smaller expenditure for the same task of getting them interested in farming.
    Somehow I have the feeling the calves might be more for yourself. Now you can tell me where to go but that's my thoughts.

    * my own father had ducks, hens, rabbits, geese, guinea fowl, ponies, donkeys, sheep, horses, cows, dogs, cats, goats - to get the next generation interested.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,198 ✭✭✭✭ wrangler


    Ye''ll learn together then. :pac:

    Every youngster deserves to hold a bottle feeding a lamb.
    Don't take this the wrong way but it was covered above. You get calves and if you've not much experience of rearing them your heart could be broken with scour and ibr and what not and bringing in other things that your father's herd may not be vaccinated for and could be an expensive lesson for all involved.

    Get lambs and the youngsters can feed them themselves and cuddle and play with. They won't be able to that with calves. It'll be you that'll have the job of minding them. You'll have to mind the lambs too but it's a lessor amount of mixed milk and feed needed and smaller expenditure for the same task of getting them interested in farming.
    Somehow I have the feeling the calves might be more for yourself. Now you can tell me where to go but that's my thoughts.

    * my own father had ducks, hens, rabbits, geese, guinea fowl, ponies, donkeys, sheep, horses, cows, dogs, cats, goats - to get the next generation interested.

    I have people come to me for lambs ''for the kids'' I tell them they'll be sick of them in a few weeks and i don't give them.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,717 ✭✭✭ amacca


    wrangler wrote: »
    I have people come to me for lambs ''for the kids'' I tell them they'll be sick of them in a few weeks and i don't give them.

    I might drop over for a lamb "for the freezer" so!


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,421 ✭✭✭ Grueller


    wrangler wrote: »
    I have people come to me for lambs ''for the kids'' I tell them they'll be sick of them in a few weeks and i don't give them.

    Santa Claus


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,198 ✭✭✭✭ wrangler


    Grueller wrote: »
    Santa Claus

    I talked a friend out of buying a pony for his kids last year, he bought two pups instead, he told me last week (when i met him out walking the same dogs) he's delighted he didn't buy the horse.


  • Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭ trg


    Thanks again to everyone for their input on this.

    Went with 5 HE bulls from a neighbour dairy herd. Paid enough for them I'd say but zero hardship and he gave me a lend of his teat feeder which I was delighted with.

    They were used to the teats, crunch and straw. We've been very lucky as they've been completely hassle free and it's enjoyable for all. The oldest lad of mine was nervous after getting a playful puck 5 minutes after that arrived but he's flying it now with them.

    They're going outside the weekend and I'm going back to the same lad for a few younger Angus. More for my sanity now to keep tipping away morning and evening.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,109 ✭✭✭ cute geoge


    trg wrote: »
    Thanks again to everyone for their input on this.

    Went with 5 HE bulls from a neighbour dairy herd. Paid enough for them I'd say but zero hardship and he gave me a lend of his teat feeder which I was delighted with.

    They were used to the teats, crunch and straw. We've been very lucky as they've been completely hassle free and it's enjoyable for all. The oldest lad of mine was nervous after getting a playful puck 5 minutes after that arrived but he's flying it now with them.

    They're going outside the weekend and I'm going back to the same lad for a few younger Angus. More for my sanity now to keep tipping away morning and evening.
    It is a great pity a small grant does not be given to suckler farmers to reduce numbers of cows and replace with rearing calves from dairy herd .Surely a good hereford/angus calf done well will leave near or equal profit as a suckler calf .I sell a few hereford calves and I think they seem good value to buy compared to all the hardship of calving continentals and mad lunatic calves you could hardly herd!!!


  • Registered Users Posts: 889 ✭✭✭ Anto_Meath


    cute geoge wrote: »
    It is a great pity a small grant does not be given to suckler farmers to reduce numbers of cows and replace with rearing calves from dairy herd .Surely a good hereford/angus calf done well will leave near or equal profit as a suckler calf .I sell a few hereford calves and I think they seem good value to buy compared to all the hardship of calving continentals and mad lunatic calves you could hardly herd!!!

    I do rear a few bucket fed calves every year for 2 reasons.
    1 it gets the kids interested in stock. A heifer I bought the 6 year old (€90 as a suck) had twins the other night she is delighted with her new stock.
    The second reason is 10 / 15 bucket fed lads running with the limos help keep them quite as there will always be a few pets in it that would follow a bucket with a shake of nuts in it. Leaves doing any work with the bullocks stress free.
    I prefer buying calves in the mart than from a farmers yard though as you can pick up better stock. In a farmers yard you nearly always have to bring 1 you don't really want.


  • Registered Users Posts: 836 ✭✭✭ MIKEKC


    cute geoge wrote: »
    It is a great pity a small grant does not be given to suckler farmers to reduce numbers of cows and replace with rearing calves from dairy herd .Surely a good hereford/angus calf done well will leave near or equal profit as a suckler calf .I sell a few hereford calves and I think they seem good value to buy compared to all the hardship of calving continentals and mad lunatic calves you could hardly herd!!!

    If the Hereford/Angus calf will leave near or equal profit as the suckler calf why should the taxpayer have to give a grant?.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,822 ✭✭✭ lab man


    MIKEKC wrote:
    If the Hereford/Angus calf will leave near or equal profit as the suckler calf why should the taxpayer have to give a grant?.


    and looking after the dairy mans left overs again, the suckler herd is ruined here in ireland in a very few short years imv


  • Registered Users Posts: 836 ✭✭✭ MIKEKC


    lab man wrote: »
    and looking after the dairy mans left overs again, the suckler herd is ruined here in ireland in a very few short years imv

    Agree, but a lot of people refuse to face reality.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,650 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves


    MIKEKC wrote: »
    If the Hereford/Angus calf will leave near or equal profit as the suckler calf why should the taxpayer have to give a grant?.

    Most suckler farmers are half afraid to quit in case there is a suckler downsizing grant. Lads would also have to adapt there setup. They need a separate shed away from existing suckler's. To do it efficiently they need to set up a paddock system for calves, Sucklers are already receiving about 180/head in different schemes

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Registered Users Posts: 13,650 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves


    lab man wrote: »
    and looking after the dairy mans left overs again, the suckler herd is ruined here in ireland in a very few short years imv

    The reality is that a suckler bred calf need a beef price of 4.5+/kg and to be carried over 400kgs DW to be viable neither which will be there for the forseeable future. The product if above 400kgs is outside UK market specification. Dairy bred beef with Fr, AA and HE bull calves priced at 50, 100 and 150 euro would be profitable at a 4/kg price +/- 20c/kg depending on time of year produced. AA calves are an issue at present but this may be solved over time.

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,822 ✭✭✭ lab man


    Most suckler farmers are half afraid to quit in case there is a suckler downsizing grant. Lads would also have to adapt there setup. They need a separate shed away from existing suckler's. To do it efficiently they need to set up a paddock system for calves, Sucklers are already receiving about 180/head in different schemes


    fair enough bass, but i brought 4 orange limo on the last Tuesday last august born first of feb well bred off simx cows weighed 430 to 470 kgs off the cow got 700 to770 euro after haggling where is suckling going when a proper decent price isnt given its a great thing to leave a mart after selli g your stock and think i can do something with that cheque. iykwim, this crack about 180 in subs is bollox cause it comes at the wrong time of year roughly 8/10 weeks from xmas instead of giving it in march april so a man can pay for fert or fencing or even buy a few calves straight out instead of getting credit sorry for the long post lab man


  • Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭ trg


    Well very early days here of course but not averse to pushing it on a bit to see where it takes us.

    Re the sucklers, I dunno, very demoralising. Again today they were let down to a field beside house and wife and young lads where on lawn doing their own thing and a couple of the cows go over to the fence with wild heads on them. I'm just pissed off with them.

    The lack of any major profit doesn't help.

    I don't have a plan yet, I'm not going to try pull the rug out from underneath the father of course. Ideally he'd like a change too but not comfortable forcing it either.

    We'll tip along with the few calves for now and see I guess.


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,650 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves


    lab man wrote: »
    fair enough bass, but i brought 4 orange limo on the last Tuesday last august born first of feb well bred off simx cows weighed 430 to 470 kgs off the cow got 700 to770 euro after haggling where is suckling going when a proper decent price isnt given its a great thing to leave a mart after selli g your stock and think i can do something with that cheque. iykwim, this crack about 180 in subs is bollox cause it comes at the wrong time of year roughly 8/10 weeks from xmas instead of giving it in march april so a man can pay for fert or fencing or even buy a few calves straight out instead of getting credit sorry for the long post lab man

    In the factory a U-bullock at a base of 3.8/kg ( and we have only seen it for 120-150 days in the last two years) weighting 380kgs DW will make 1550 euro in the factory. An O- Fr bullock killing 360 kgs DW will make 1320 euro. an O+ HE bullock weighting 340kgs DW will make 1350 euro.

    Now many lads will that that suckler bred bullock to 450 DW and Kepack will penalize him 20c/kg and he make 1750 at that base or kill him as a U16 month or u24 month bull after eating 2 ton of ration

    What I am showing you is the economics of keeping a cow to produce a calf is just not in it. The FJ and the IFA are selling lads a pup in regards to sucklers. It took 6-8 years to build up the 180/cow not IFA are on about 300/cow it will take another 5 years to reach that if it evens happens.

    Flatted BPS, put in place a proper greening and enviormental scheme and direct subsidy to an animal with a commercial market. But no IFA will talk about upwards only convergence, they are again on about a rescue package for winter finishers. The average suckler cow produces 0.8 calves/years. The economics are not in a suckler cow.

    It not nice what I am saying I am just pointing out the harsh realaties. What you have to ask youself is when will beef price rise to make itself commercially viable for sucklers. If we had 50% of the suckler cows we had now there might be a market for that product

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,822 ✭✭✭ lab man


    It not nice what I am saying I am just pointing out the harsh realaties. What you have to ask youself is when will beef price rise to make itself commercially viable for sucklers. If we had 50% of the suckler cows we had now there might be a market for that product


    im not disagreeing with you at all there was great cows and cattle up to 5/7 yrs ago the genomic schemehas rightly skrewed it in my view to say if you had low stars all you had to do was go down to thedairy guy buy a few lm x fr heifer calves and bingo your replacement values were back on target have a calf of them narrow yokes and youll get well paid alright


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,650 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves


    lab man wrote: »
    im not disagreeing with you at all there was great cows and cattle up to 5/7 yrs ago the genomic schemehas rightly skrewed it in my view to say if you had low stars all you had to do was go down to thedairy guy buy a few lm x fr heifer calves and bingo your replacement values were back on target have a calf of them narrow yokes and youll get well paid alright

    A lot of the Beef Genomic scheme was based on the lad finishing cattle at sub 16 months bull out of a shed or 24 month bullock as well from a shed. So you needed an animal that would attain a FS easy at those ages and at weights sub 400kgs DW. Most theory on sucklers is done on goodish farm land. You look at the demo farms all are based on good large farms. There has been very little research done on suckler production on marginal land and without rye grass swards.

    Having said all that the economics are still crazy. The problem is not that these calves were narrow they will all grade R+ or better the problem is that beef prices have dropped from a base spread 3+ years ago of 3.9-4.4/kg to the present time where we are looking at a summer peak price of 3.5/kg maybe. That price difference is taking 350-500 out of the factory price of an animal. At the same time costs have increased

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭ trg


    Oh ffs the forecast here was very good and smashing morning so let out the calves. I even had the kids paddling pool blown up and a barbecue at the ready twas so good!

    Anyway now there's a thunder and lightning and a nice drop of rain. It's down for a few hours.

    Should they go back in? Or are they as well off out in it?


  • Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭ trg


    Weighed the calves yesterday, between 226kg and 287kg. Happy enough I think. ADG of 1.1kg or so. Had added a few friesians, they were a nice bit off, 0.85kg ADG.

    Not that I'm mad to sell but what would the herefords make I wonder?

    6.5 months old, 4 of the 5 are pretty good shape.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,650 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves


    trg wrote: »
    Weighed the calves yesterday, between 226kg and 287kg. Happy enough I think. ADG of 1.1kg or so. Had added a few friesians, they were a nice bit off, 0.85kg ADG.

    Not that I'm mad to sell but what would the herefords make I wonder?

    6.5 months old, 4 of the 5 are pretty good shape.

    The HE should make a bit more than 2/kg. They must have been off a good HE bull if they have gained 1.1kgs/ day. Seldom see HE out gain FR cattle. I be slow selling them HE I consider squeezing them on decent silage and a small bit of ration they will gain away over the winter. This time next year they should be flaking stores you might even be able to slaughter them off grass at 20 months

    Slava Ukrainii



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