If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact

Anyone exit Suckler system??

  • 11-04-2023 7:23pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,799 ✭✭✭

    As the title asks and if so what system did you change to and how is it working out



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,057 ✭✭✭emaherx

    No, but I intend on getting out this year, thinking about rearing calves from next year.

  • Registered Users Posts: 85 ✭✭doyleshill

    Same here.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,799 ✭✭✭50HX

    I've gone from 30 to 15 over 2 years, I've silage ground rented out this year for cash

    I'm goin to keep this year's weanlings and maybe 5 cows

    Just wondering what system people have gotten into & how does it compare

    Young kids here& better half on shift but main reason is the finances for sucklers don't add up

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,743 ✭✭✭✭patsy_mccabe

    Ya more and more getting out. It's a lot of hardship with little reward. I watched dairy bred AA calves selling for 50euro in Ross mart about 2 weeks ago. In the older ring, same day saw 650kg 22 month AA bullocks making over 2000.

    'When I was a boy we were serfs, slave minded. Anyone who came along and lifted us out of that belittling, I looked on them as Gods.' - Dan Breen

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,172 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    We are down into single digit cows now. Got rid of bull and going with ftai initially. Trying to improve the cows in herd. Usually also bring in number of calves to rear on but when we get some poor ground sorted we will know which to increase.

    Trying bull calves this year instead of heifers. Hopefully sale day is better with these ones.

    If the ftai works out well then we will stick and bring the calves through to bull beef where possible. If its a disaster, then I can see us concentrating on calf rearing.

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 6,057 ✭✭✭emaherx

    Kids are part of my decision too, they want to be more and more involved and I think rearing calves without calving cows and keeping a stock bull will allow them a lot more involvement with better safety. I was originally thinking of going AI but the farm is too disjointed and it wouldn't be practical.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,197 ✭✭✭carrollsno1

    The auld lad here is pushing for 60, hes not going to enter the new suckler scheme as hes not going to commit to 5 years however he could be saying the same thing the next time a new scheme is launched again. If it was my turn to take the reins (if ever it comes) id be upping cow numbers and selling progeny at weaning or after the first winter.

    Better living everyone

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,984 ✭✭✭Hard Knocks

    Not knocking your plan, I don’t know if the €50 AA calf will make €2000 at 22 months. It takes good genetics and allot of effort to get a bullock to 650kg. You need to be on your game the day you’re buying. Saw a 22 month AA at 350kg make €700 last night.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,743 ✭✭✭✭patsy_mccabe

    Oh, I know but it was an eye opener seeing it. They had some condition on them in fairness. Not my plan, BTW.

    'When I was a boy we were serfs, slave minded. Anyone who came along and lifted us out of that belittling, I looked on them as Gods.' - Dan Breen

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,917 ✭✭✭farawaygrass

    Down to single digits too and sold the bull last year. I’m getting out the last few years but finding it hard to make the break. My reference for the new scheme is 25 so it’d be up on over 3k of a payment but even that’s not really making me thinking of staying going with them. Wouldn’t be on bad land but cattle went in here bout 20th of October and they are only back out a week now, and the fields are full of closhs today. That’s a long winter.

    planning on upping sheep numbers a bit and also buying runners or weanling. Would have one group less for grazing so hoping grazing management should be a tad easier too. I’ll be sad to see them so but I think looking back in a year I won’t regret it.

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 2,589 ✭✭✭Cavanjack

    I had a neighbor’s 20 month old heifers in the yard last October. I couldn’t get over the size of them compared to the 500kg continental bullocks of the same age that I had just bought. The heifers made a show of them.

    Surely you’d think the continental calf sucking a cow for 9 months should be miles ahead.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,799 ✭✭✭50HX

    It's the silage I find the killer

    @40e per bale that's 480 for a 6 month winter, that'll be 7 months this year

    Cow rearing a calf maybe for 2mnths of that(depending on calving date but assume spring based calving)

    So for the other 4 months she munching away at well over 2euro a day and no return

    Any other system would involve weight gain= a return

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    500 kg continentals at 20 months. That’s a shocking weight for continentals.

    I don’t understand how lads keep feeding cattle 6 or 7 months. Lighter stock might work.

  • Registered Users Posts: 302 ✭✭Rusheseverywhere

    The long winter is killing it thinking of out myself. The amount of silage cows eat is ridicolous mine are eating 12 bales over the winter easily, add in straw bit of meal, minerals, dosing etc too much against the weanling let alone what the weanlings own costs. You need to be producing the 1500 bull calf to justify it. the 800 to 900 weanling I produce is no use. Also calf losses really kill it. Family at dry stock and very rare to lose a beast at that.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 12,645 Mod ✭✭✭✭blue5000

    Cut the numbers here too, went organic.

    If the seat's wet, sit on yer hat, a cool head is better than a wet ar5e.

  • Registered Users Posts: 302 ✭✭Rusheseverywhere

    Organic no better either I found more costs same money.

    IF that is right sucklers days seem numbered except for an export market.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,225 ✭✭✭charolais0153

    That’s the killer is the dead calf especially at small numbers. Takes the good out of them

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,589 ✭✭✭Cavanjack

    500kg and lighter, Marts be full of them at the back end of the year. They are usually hungry at that weight and do a good thrive to kill off grass the following year.

    I’ve yearling bulls that I wintered heading for 450-500kg at the minute. I’d like them hanging at 20 months.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    That’s a very poor weight for a 20 month old continental.

    No fortune to be made in a handy sized farm. Future options may be partnerships where a few small farmers pool resources including labour to scale for efficiency.

    Dont know how anyone could make a decent living in livestock with a 7 month winter even if the were milking cows

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,315 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath

    I rear 20 bucket fed calves and have 20 suckler cows. Last year my bucket fed bullocks killed out at an average of €1,600 each. My LMx cross cattle came into an average of €2,100. Between purchases price, milk, meal, hay, straw and vets it costs me €400 to get my bucket fed calves to the end of October on their first year. After that all costs in getting the cattle to slaughter would be similar. The main difference is getting my suckler bred cattle away in July / August @ circa €5.15/kg and the bucket fed lads are away end of September / October @ circa €4.60 and the suckler would be killing out up to 30-40 kgs heavier. So between the difference in sale price, cost of bucket fed calves and the €160 suckler premium there is a €1,060 gross more in my suckler cows. It cost €240 per cow on silage for the winter (6 bales (€40 / bale) a week for them all for 20 weeks) and I would estimate €360 /cow for the summer period so total cost to maintain my cows would be €600 /head per year.

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 171 ✭✭Jim Simmental

    Do you run the sucklers and bucket calves together or do you have to keep them separate ?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,917 ✭✭✭farawaygrass

    you would keep at least twice as many bucket reared if there was no cows would ya? How would that work with your figures

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    If there was that much money in bucket rearing then there wouldn’t be a need to export so many of the calves.

    There is a lot of work in bucket rearing calves as well. Maybe the lads using old dairy cows to rear two or three calves are set up better for it

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,315 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath

    @Jim Simmental I would run them separately until about the end of August, then I would have the bucket feds with the sucklers as I find they help train the suckler calves to come into the yard for some crunch. I also find having the quite bucket fed calves around the suckler calves help keep them quite and settled.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,315 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath

    @farawaygrass yes I could but that would involve a good bit more work mixing more milk, more feeding and more bedding in the spring, it take the best part of an hour morning and evening for April & May feeding the 20 I have and I am only a part time farmer. If I was to increase numbers to say 50 I would need to look at an automatic feeder, there would also be the increased risk of scours and diseases with increased numbers of calves. Plus one of the reasons I feed calves is to have the kids (4 & 9) involved in the farm, they enjoy the hour in the evening helping but if it was to be any longer they would probably get pissed off and leave me at it on my own.

    The other thing I have noticed over the years is no matter what the trade is for stock, you can bring suckler bred cattle to the mart any day and get their value. I have seen at time when prices were poor (2019) you were getting badly insulted the money offered in marts for dairy bred stock.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,799 ✭✭✭50HX

    @Anto_Meath great insight to your figures thanks

    @600 per cow that's just for feed yeah?

    What are the other figures for say minerals,dose, vet,bedding, ai or bull maintenance, mart transport etc

    Do you load the expenses of the suck calf onto the cow or separate I.e tag bvd test,blackleg dose mart transport etc

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,315 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath

    The €600 per cow would cover my total costs associated with keeping of each cow, vet, AI, minerals (used 18 pre-calver buckets for the winter €300), new tags and BVD testing. My other expenses like fertilizer, land rental, slurry spreading, tractor diesel (have my own cattle trailer for transport) fencing I add up and divide across all cattle.

    I use an easy calving AI LM bull on most of my cows and thankfully that keeps my vets bills low. I would spend a lot more in the vets on the bucket fed calves with, scour tablets, antibiotics for scours and chills, anesthetics for dehorning, alu spray & tonavet as I find bucket fed calves need a little extra to keep them thriving, I also find I give the bucket fed calves something like Endospec in the end of July / August as they tend to pick up a bit more of a worm burden in their first year over suckler fed calves.

    I find paying on the visa card very handy for keeping track of the expenses as I can sit down every so often go through the account and extract what I have spent money on and that helps with costs and planning.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,799 ✭✭✭50HX

    I'm coming at it from a different angle, the fertiliser mineral buckets fencing slurry transport etc I put onto each cow as she has to carry that cost, the more heads the greater the spread of costs but also the greater overall costs

    Broadly speaking you could say that land costs are the same regardless of which beef enterprise. All animals have to watered fenced etc

    Does anybody else look at it this way as in overall cost divided by cow?

    Sorry if this sounds pedantic 😀

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I’d say 40 euro for the bale of silage would include fertiliser to grow it.

    Its worth keeping a handle on costs and seeing where the value add really is.

    In my opinion you need to have some kind of quality stock to have any hope alternative is buy lesser quality bullocks and let them there spend nothing or as little as possible on them and do them over 30 months.

    If you can’t breed your own stock then maybe an option is to partner with a dairy farmer and assist him with calving etc in exchange for a shot of the male calves.

    Other option is contract rearing or rent the place out.

    Fencing, slurry, transportation. They can’t be bad.

    Like if you have good hobbies or an alternative enterprise or are sick of farming or a combination of all three then renting it out has to be considered.

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 1,799 ✭✭✭50HX

    Not sick of farming at all but I hear what you are saying

    Just looking at systems & figures and trying to work out what works best both financially & time wise