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Hello from Eastern Europe

  • 02-01-2022 2:22pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭


    Happy New Year everyone! After a very good request about creating my own separate thread about our family's farming life, finally decided to do it.

    My family lives on eastern part of Lithuania. We run a suckler farm. Have around 400acres our own land, plus ~200acres of leased land. All land is just for forage or grazing. At the moment have abit over 50 suckler cows, however, with some heifers calving this year going to go over 60 cows. My parents moved to the country in 1999, started with chickens, then sheep and in 2004 bought our first crossbred heifer. Then started buying bit by bit some cows and heifers. In a couple years there were already 10 cows. Almost completely stopped buying females from other farmers. Our latest purchases were purebred limousine weanling heifer, two weanling heifers from neighbour and two three month old pure angus heifers. Our herd is mostly bred from our first cows. I actually like that. I personally know a couple generations of each cow, know what problems had some families, etc. We do buy bulls for breeding. At the very beginning we used to use AI, then used our own bred bull one year, another our bull next year and then bought pure lim bull. Used just bulls for several years, then once I started getting interested in beef farming, started using some AI again. Last year I've finished Veterinary Medicine studies and started doing AI myself. That actually was very helpful, as our herd bull had a breeding injury after serving only 7 cows. Our main breeds were mostly Limousine, some Charolais, Angus. Now introduced into our herd such breeds like Parthenaise, Blonde, Piedmontese. Started using Belgian blue and Simmental more.It was just three years after going into AI more heavily and the first heifers born from AI and bred with AI themselves are due just this year, but there is a noticable improvement in the quality of the animals.

    I would call myself a beef cattle enthusiast, as doing research about different breeds, doing my own experiments with crossing some breeds, talking about cattle is my hobby. Many people are very surprised about how many breeds we have used and still have in the herd, and most don't see the point in doing that. Well, it's everybody's choice what direction they'll go.

    Going to post some photos in the next my posts. Any questions are welcome.



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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,027 ✭✭✭minerleague


    Great idea for thread, often saw posts from you before in livestock picture thread ( great looking cattle ) How is price of beef there ( Is our own Larry Goodman there yet? ABP) How do you winter stock?



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    Beef prices went up starting in September. It was 3.15eur/kg carcass weight for U grade animal, in December the price was 3.7eur. Sold some weanlings (bulls and heifers) for 2.45eur/kg liveweight. Saw that prices were in 2-2.6eur/kg range a that time, pure animals get higher price.

    About outwintering, here's a photo taken in December:

    On the left side incalf heifers, on the right- cows. You can see a shed on the hill. Both herds have access to it. A cow very close to calving or just freshly calved is put in a pen in the shed for a week or so, that the calf would get strong and then both are let out with the whole herd. Young heifers, bulls have their own sheds and pastures, weaned bulls will be put in an old barn close to home and weaned heifers will stay closed in the main shed.



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    First two photos- incalf heifers enjoying some nice weather in December. The last photo- newborn heifer born on December 12th. Weighed 54kgs! 😳 She stayed in the pen for ten days nad then was introduced to the herd.

    Here's her most recent photo. Not so lovely weather unfortunatelly, but she is growing well.



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    The sire of the newborn heifer. Our own crossbred bull, sired by french limousine bull called Fable. The heifer herself is more of an oops calf. The bull was weaned abit to late and managed to breed one cow. I did knew she was bred when she stopped coming in heat, but decided to let her have this calf.

    Ok, so some more cattle pics with some more background.

    Two heifers sired by Tweeddale Lookout. The white is out of limx charxdairy cow incalf to charolais, the yellow is out of limxherxdairy and incalf to Tomschoise Onslow. Actually, really liked Tweeddale Lookout's calves. Not easy calved, most calves were 50+kg, but all were growing really well, had good kill out. As I'm not chasing after easy calving bulls, he was really great choice for some cows. Pitty that he's no longer available here. Have sold two of his sons for one farmer to fatten and he was very happy with them. Bulls easily gained 2kg/day on the same ration as other gained max 1,5kg, and both bulls were well over 700, one even over 800kgs at 15months age.

    Have these two his daughters, one for breeding this summer and one weanling heifer from him.

    Pic with one of his daughters. This one is 7/8 Charolais from 13years old cow.




  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    Some of 2021 calves

    Bazadaise sired heifer, dam is mainly angus with abit of charolais, limousine. Nothing special, but she looked way heavier than most heifers her age from other breeds.

    Blondex bull calf from limxangusx cow.

    Lodge Hamlet sired heifer from angus, lim, char mixed cow.

    Limx heifer from limxangusx cow.

    Limx heifer from tiny limx second calver.

    Limx heifer from limxangusx third calver. Probably the most favorite heifer. Have an incalf simx heifer from the same dam calving in April with Tomschoise Onslow calf. Good family line.




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  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    And here are this years future calves sires:

    First time trying Dutch improved red and white. The first calf due this year should be by the first bull.


    There also is one piedmontese bull, charolaise bull, blonde bull, belgian blue bull, two simmentals and two more limousines: Tomschoise Onslow and Tweeddale Lennox. Plus a couple calves by a limousine herd bull and one our crossbred bull piedmontesex limousine cross for a couple cows, which weren't showing heat and they were falling out of the calving season.



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,924 ✭✭✭alps


    Fabulous stock and fabulous looking farm. Your grass quality is really good..

    Can you tell us a little about your growing season, grass growth and yield, inputs etc?



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,027 ✭✭✭minerleague


    What breed are those dutch bulls VRB ( a type of belgian blue??)



  • Registered Users Posts: 516 ✭✭✭Ard_MC


    A really interesting thread and I am a sheep farmer! Has fertiliser got expensive over there?


    Great stock. A credit to you.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,539 ✭✭✭older by the day


    It a great thread to start. Grand to read what type of farming you are doing. Keep up your good work



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  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    It's the only Dutch beef breed- Dutch improved red beef, or VRB- Verbeterd Roodbont. Characteristics very simmilar to belgian blue, but quite new compared to others and not widely known breed.



  • Registered Users Posts: 11,028 ✭✭✭✭Say my name


    Fair dues for starting the thread @golodge . Lovely stock. But I don't envy the weather. 🥶🥶

    Would your stock breeding breeds be typical of your area?

    Any problems from wolves and bear predation? Boar breaking fences etc?



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    Yes, almost everything went up in price. Fertilisers price went up 5 times, some even more.

    We have a couple sheep for own needs. Mostly Texel cross. Used some other breeds before, but now settled down to texels.



  • Registered Users Posts: 11,125 ✭✭✭✭Base price


    Do you save hay or make silage for Winter feed or both.



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    If year is very good for grass, we might get the first cut by the end of May. Usually the first cut is made by the end of June. Grazing season can start anywhere from the beginning of May to the beginning of June. Alot depends from the spring. In a good sown grass field you can make 3, maybe 4 cuts, if the weather is good for grass growth. Our land mostly is natural grass, so in perfect conditions you can get maybe 3 cuts, but just in some parts.

    We started reseeding some of the fields, mostly, because that some were just for grazing, also there usually was very poor grass.

    Usually we get 10 bales from 1ha (~2,47acres). That's actually a good result in a natural grass field. In sown ones we got around 20bales per cut from 1ha. There are some parts in my country, where results are better, they have better land, sometimes weather is more favorable.

    Grazing season ends in October. Sometimes we already get some snow then.

    A photo taken at April 19th last spring.

    Another photo taken on the May 17th.

    And a photo from June 3rd.

    For example, this year we had a good 1,5 month with temperatures rarely going lower than 30C°. It was a nightmare for breeding with AI and not a helpfull thing with grass. Luckily had a winter with lots of snow, so the land had good amount of water from all the snow melting. Otherwise, we would have had no grass to cut. Second grass had burned down in some fields, so it was quite a hard time with it. We sometimes have year when we are able to make enough feed with just the first cut, but had some years, when hardly made half of needed amount, luckily made enough with the second grass then.



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    You learn how to deal with the weather. Not a fan myself sometimes, but can't do much.

    Most popular and common breeds in my country are Charolais, Limousine, Angus, Aubracs, abit less Simmentals, Hereford, Highland, Galloway. Know that a couple farmers have Tyrols, but just a small number and one farmer brought some Chianina from Italy a couple years ago. Belgian Blues are widely used by dairy farmers, but no pure alive animals in the country.

    Looking at that, most breeds I use are considered exotics.


    Too many wolves. Main problem now. Especially for sheep, goat farmers, but cattle were killed or injured as well. And too many people trying to protect wolves... Many lies about the true size of wolves population.

    We do have some bears walking somewhere, no problems with those. And quite many lynxes.

    Boars cause more problems with destroying fields.



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    Hay and haylage in bales. Hay mostly for cows, haylage for youngstock. If temperature is too low, then only hay for all, as haylage turns into an ice block. Always trying to make way more hay than needed. Use an year old hay bales for bedding, as there is no possibility to get straw in my region.



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    So here's what I'm actually really proud of. The docility of our cows. Well, some tend to become quite reactive towards other people, but all are well behaving for me.

    Here are two pics how I AI my cows. Rarely for some individuals you need to put a halter on, but most are AI'd like this and the steel pen is more of a protection from other cows coming for the bucket and to secure that cow wouldn't walk away if she didn't liked the procedure.

    It's abit of a different story with heifers, but I did AI one this fall just with her nose in the bucket and my mom protecting the bucket from other heifers. Once they turn into cows, they tend to change their behaviour alot. I did almost all AI by myself alone, rarely had anybody by my side helping. Noticed that cows were way calmer this way and were more interested in eating the meal from the bucket than what I was doing behind their back.

    And here's my own first cow. Pictured as an incalf heifer. Now she'll be 9 years old and still going strong, not missing a year without a calf. Can do the same thing with her any time I want. She's my first one and I already decided to let her live her own life untill she'll pass away naturally. Many would say that I'm naive, etc., but she's very special to me and there is a strong sence of trust between us both. Can AI her with just a bucket of meal, can put a halter anytime and walk her wherever I want, have milked her two times in the field when she calved- one time, when she lost her calf and gave her another calf, which she took as her own on the first day, and second time when her calf was quite stubborn with nursing, but it appeared after 2 or 3 days that he's nursing very well himself 🤦‍♀️



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,041 ✭✭✭davidk1394


    Are you Lithuanian yourself or did you move from another country?



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    Born and raised here, my parents and grandparents too.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,041 ✭✭✭davidk1394


    Sorry, I wasn't sure 😅 I look forward to reading this thread going forward



  • Registered Users Posts: 586 ✭✭✭dh1985


    This is a really interesting thread and fair play for taking the time to post and respond to questions. Always enjoyed your photos back through the years in the livestock thread. One question I have is how did you come by posting on this particular forum in the first place.



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    Ohhh, that's a good question! I actually did a google search of farming related forums almost 10 years ago and found some, which became good place not just for some information, but also good way to practice my English. Not 100% sure that it was the same with this forum, but either this way, or I've searched a particular stuff farming related on the internet and one of the results was this forum, and after some research I found it quite interesting and usefull. Not so sure after all these years though. But it's one of these two options.



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,259 ✭✭✭jfh


    Great idea for a tread, I've seen your cattle before in the Livestock photo and was impressed. Good to hear a different story, just one question, do you calve all year round, I see a really young calf there in one of the recent pictures



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,047 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey


    Lovely to see your land type. Keep the photos coming. Great to see the docility in your animals.

    Also your English is perfect, congratulations.


    You say your grazing season is from May until October. Are they housed only from October to May or do they have access to shed and field during this time like in your photos above?


    What way is the 600ac split between fodder and grazing?

    Also how much machinery do you keep and what work goes to the

    contractor?



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    Try not to. Heifers strictly start calving in April, usually finishes by June. Cows start in December, sometimes January. Don't want many winter calves, but needs to have some, so usually have +-10cows calved in winter and all other start in spring. Want to have all calves born before June, but sometimes there are some summer calves. Those cows usually are moved to winter calving.

    Bull starts work in April, leaves the herd when all are moved home, so usually in October or November.



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    In during grazing season they move frlm field to field, so winter pasture is left either to graze for weanlings or, like two years ago, have sown some grass and made some haylage from this field.

    About one fourth is just for making feed, slightly less just for grazing and everything else is for both. Usually in those fields cattle are grazed on the second or third grass.

    We do everything ourselves, so have mostly everything what we need: two tractors, baler, rake, wrapper, seeder, etc.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,433 ✭✭✭cjpm


    Your English is so perfect I assumed you left Ireland!! Well done.

    Very interesting to read about farming systems abroad, keep it up



  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    Thank you!

    Actually, all farming related forums, videos helped to improve in English way better and way faster than school. Remember at first had to have a vocabulary by my side, when writing something, while now it rarely is needed, but still have alot to learn.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 275 ✭✭golodge


    Ok, so a little bit of update to the whole story.

    What I've told so far was about my and my parents farm. I officially do not have any cows under my name, but there are some, which are unofficially mine. Will try to build up some numbers in my own herd and maybe even finally be able to officially become farmer myself.

    My husband is a farmer too. He has a couple beef cows, but mostly is focused on dairy farming. With my constant pushing, he finally started milking his own cows under his name, and finally started getting some money from them. Until last October, he has been working for his parents, which have a completely different idea about farming, has no interest in some investment into the farm and no interest in improvement. They were just constantly unhappy about their son, how he was ungrateful, how all money were earned by them and not him, however almost all work at farm was done by him alone. I was very against working with them, so made him decide, either we start working for ourselves, or we'll need to take separate paths.

    So things seem pretty good so far. Managed to increase milk quite alot. His parents milked all cows only once a day, no meal, usually not enough of grass, so cows gave only ~5-6l a day. Also most cows had high SCC and ofter occuring mastitis. Managed to increase milk up to 15l+ for all, a couple freshly calved cows are doing some good job with our care. One with three quarters working is going close to 40l a day. Well, lots of work needs to be done- genetic improvement, overall care, but the result is there.

    So today had the first calf born on my husband's dairy farm. Holstein sired heifer calf.




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