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A lost farmer

  • 03-01-2022 7:56pm
    Registered Users Posts: 6 anonymous_farmer


    This is an anonymous account.

    Need some advice, I'm back to farm in my mid thirties (working in a trade off farm) beef farm, moderately sized farm, 90 animals currently.

    I've done the green cert, although with covid it was a bit more tick the box course.

    I'm looking to get more educated on farming in general and a hand with all the paperwork that comes with it.

    My father is still farming but is only tipping and I'm working off farm so get there as much as I can.

    I want to get more into it and get it running efficiently over the next few years.

    At times I feel it's all too much and I'm lost completely, but then I shake my head and say cop on there's a future here for you.

    Any tips or advice appreciated.

    I'm sure I'm not the only one in this kind of situation.



  • Registered Users Posts: 14,903 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves

    Are you self employed off farm or an employee.

    Is it a Suckler, store or finishing system in place. What is the land type if there is 90 cattle on the farm it is a substantial operation. What sort of housing in place. Is all the land in one block. Do you use contractors or is a lot of work done in-house.

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,592 ✭✭✭ Barktastic

    Beef farming for dummies is a good book. I bought it.

    The green cert books are good, the ones on grass etc.

    To be successful in beef you would need to find low maintenance cattle and keep costs low including feed, fertiliser, stock and machinery

  • Registered Users Posts: 290 ✭✭ countryjimbo

    If you are not registered on, get registered, it will help with paperwork. Also consider a smartphone app like Herdwatch, very useful especially if you need to register calves.

  • Registered Users Posts: 818 ✭✭✭ minerleague

    How about asking the father for advice first? no-one will know the place better and what its capable of stocking wise.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 278 ✭✭ JohnChadwick

    Is buying stores in spring and selling in Autumn the lowest risk option available...?

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,903 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves

    Probably one of the highest risk. You are buying from a lad trying to make a margin and selling to a lad trying to make a margin. You are buying at the highest market price and selling into the lowest.

    You are also carrying the risk of if you are restricted having to sell into feedlots which are restricted and literary have you by the [email protected] Grand to carry the risk on 20-30 cattle doing that but with 100+.

    The other big factor with a summer based the loss V profit risk. If you make a loss of 150/ head on 100 cattle that is 15k, you are unlikely to have all higher tax to write that off against. If you make 150/ head profit the 15 k will be taxed at the higher rate. Stock values cannot be used to soften tax liabilities on a once off like a lad will cattle all year around.

    Add to all that the time it will take to buy 100 off cattle in spring and sell them in the autumn and work as well.

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 278 ✭✭ JohnChadwick

    True. What's the thoughts on what may be the lowest risk option that allows one with room for 90 animals (100 /150 acres) to retain their subs?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,592 ✭✭✭ Barktastic

    Contract rear heifers for few dairy men.

    Buy them then sell them back to him at a pre agreed price

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,348 ✭✭✭ tanko

    The lowest risk option is to stock your farm at the rate to qualify for the ANC payment 0.15 LU/Hectare over the calendar year and buy a topper to keep the grass down, get your Basic farm payment and Glas/Reap scheme money.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,748 ✭✭✭ herdquitter

    Probably the simplest option, too many lads at the buying/selling game.

  • Registered Users Posts: 388 ✭✭ tommybrees

    Depends on what you have in mind.

    I'd say if your thinking of going down the conventional route of dairy, beef or sheep in this country your mad imo.

    Think outside the box, the future is in getting paid for as many environmental schemes and carbon credits etc.

    Something I would consider outside the box could be free range organic pork.

    Hard to find in shops and a product that could get a premium price.

    Or try make quality silage or hay, just a few ideas I can think of.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,263 ✭✭✭ chooseusername

    Have a look here,

    you might be lucky and find your local advisor to be what you're looking for.

    Some are good, some not so.

    Either way good luck with your venture, it'll be hard work, but very rewarding.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,903 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves

    I think it all depends on your land quality. There is many different profitable systems out there. Main thing to remember when you are feeding cattle ration you are probably breaking even at best. However most system need a little bit of ration feeding.

    At times it may be reducing losses to a minimum but most lads at drystock are turning a few bob. If your land is good enough buying stores and finishing following off grass is the handiest. You can buy stores from 550-1k+ that will leave a margin.

    Heifer calf to beef at 10-22 months is also an option ( you could even add a few traditional breed bullocks). For more mixed land where you have some good but some poorer/ wetter type land weanling to beef would be an option.

    When you are getting into poorer land you may well be at reducing losses ( having said that there are lads farming profitabley on all land types) so minimal sticking may be the order of the day.

    That why until OP gives a bit more detail on land etc we are guessing on the blind

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 278 ✭✭ JohnChadwick

    In organic already so need 0.5 LU. For 60Ha need 30 cows. Get around 10k payment for organic scheme, do would need a lot of cattle to make up that payment.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,802 ✭✭✭ Markcheese

    Good to think outside the box ..

    But there's a reason there's very little organic free-range pork - hard to make it pay -organic pig feed is'll get a premium for free-range - but not a second premium for organic - maybe if your land type suits -

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,952 ✭✭✭ funkey_monkey

    Would it not be better to buy them in as suck calves instead of weanlings - granted there is a bit of work with them at that stage but you cut out a person needing their slice of the pie. Is there not better chance of increased margins rather than purchasing at weanling stage? The first year will be tough until you get into the 2nd year and have some stock to go out with.

    We would buy in heifers as suck/drop calves. Rear them up and any poor ones get taken out as and when needs arise before the others either go finishers or less likely to the bull/AI to be sold as springers. I'd like to finish some myself, but how many would you need to have to finish yourself?

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,748 ✭✭✭ herdquitter

    Agree, explored that option recently and unless willing to invest and go further into processing and creating a brand, it's marginally better than a lot of options but it's no end of the rainbow stuff.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,903 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves

    It depends on what type of cattle you buy. But most consider weanlings better value than calves. As well you have to be aware that the OP is working as a tradesman as well. On my own system I buy 60 ish stores and finish off grass the following year. 24 HA go in on my BPS but that is stretching the actual land base. Last year I finished 60, the year before 70. I have 65 bought this year. The last 5 I only bough because they were real value.

    Slava Ukrainii

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,502 ✭✭✭ tabby aspreme

    I see plenty of Angus and Whitehead heifer weanlings for €450-500 or less, for sale at the moment, would they leave money if finished off grass in early summer 2023

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,952 ✭✭✭ funkey_monkey

    But most consider weanlings better value than calves.

    Can I ask why? We would always buy in some calves every year and then sell on at mart around the 12-14 month old mark. Just wondering what we have missed. Is it because you can avoid the ones that take too much to the dairy side?

    (Apologies for sidetracking the thread here.)

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 2,464 Mod ✭✭✭✭ K.G.

    An old fella said to me about farming one time,"look around and pick a good hardworking protestant farmer and follow what ever he does".you mentioned 90 animals but what is the system.a breif synopsis of the systems

    Calf to beef,tight margin, a good eye for a calf and calf rearing the key things to get right

    Suckers,low margin but breeding can be very satisfying. Spending nothing and I mean nothing is the key to profit

    Summer grazing,almost nothing in it and is really about farming subsidy s

    Buying and selling.has the most potential for profit but requires time and skills which if you have them would almost always be better employed elsewhere.

    Contract rearing dairy stock.finding the right partner is the key to this and relationship skills and communication. Avoids a element of risk

    Organics,niche produce and forestry etc,you ve got to know what you're doing but alot just want to feel good about what they are doing

    Sheep,I haven't a clue about them but they seem very variable

    Tillage,fast becoming a volume business due to margin and machinery costs

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,903 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves

    It more to do with people taking cattle to finish. Buying at calf stage adds a lot of labour into the system. A lot of 3-10 months old calves are bought at virtually the cost of production. If you are carrying cattle to finish then you need to keep very young cattle away from potential disease burdens. It is relatively cheap to carry bucket fed weanlings for first winter and losses are generally not a factor compared to losses at calf stage.

    TBH I cut out that stage and much prefer to watch for value at the 14-18 month stage. Last summer I bought two bunches of yearling Friesians in early July. One bunch 500 euro @ 330 kgs, 2nd bunch 490 [email protected] kgs., I probable picked up another 10-15 cattle at 450-550 euro from 290-370 kgs.

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 6 anonymous_farmer

    Thanks for the replies everyone, great to have some help from different view points.

    I'll get that book and I have all the notes etc from the green cert so am going over them as well.

    Im obviously farming with my father and picking up a lot as we go, he's winding down and I'm winding up.

    The land is very good grass land, approx 60 hectares and stocking rate of 2 LU/ha (at peak)

    Generally finish steers and keep mostly store cattle, bought as weanlings.

    Going ok at the moment, cattle are in and fed silage in the evenings, silage shoved in and stock checked in the mornings before work.

    Hopefully will get TAMS this year as need to concrete some of the yard and improve stock handling facilities, especially the crush. (Any tips on the application would be appreciated)

    Got Herdwatch a few months ago and it is helpful, but only getting to grips with it at the moment.

    Open to all options, might look into organic pure breds.

    Anymore info you want just ask.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,592 ✭✭✭ Barktastic

    It would make sense to look at alternatives alright as milk isn’t going to be the answer and that is already being revealed as we see the rising costs making it harder to make a living.

    At the minute it’s all talk of reducing red meat and dairy intake and moving to alternatives, even heard of potato milk yesterday.

    Extensive farming and eco schemes are the way to go as costs, labour and maintenance are kept down. A few handy cheap bought in stock along with a few low maintenance suckers or a bit of contract rearing could work.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,903 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves

    150 acres of good grass land should be well able to leave a decent income off drystock. Just keep costs under control. A stocking rate of 2 LU / HA would not be high that I'd only 130 kgsN/ HA unless you mean 2 units( yearling and 2 year old would be a unit in your system)

    Ideally should be no need to push in silage in the morning. However I suspect you have a pit and Are putting out one day's feed at a time.

    Are you finishing at 20-24 months or off grass at 24 months. Paddocks if not in place would in tease profitability. It should be possible to run cattle as two bunches if finishing off grass at sub 30 months. Paddocking need not cost a fortune friend just put water troughs in middle of field and a couple of stakes around them. Fence back to side of fields with pigtails and string.

    Keep away from suckler's. It will add extra groups to the system. New government supports will be related to traditional suckler stock numbers. As well they are tending to taper support so that bigger herds receive less

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 278 ✭✭ JohnChadwick

    Would have advised organics if you had a few Sucklers. Like, with 60ha u would get 13k for 2 years and 10k thereafter for doing nothing. You would do very well to make up that amount of money by operating a more intensive and non-organic system.

    To keep ur stocking rate at 0.5 and rinse those organic payments, u would need to source a good number of organic weanlings though (depending how many yer finishing). Wouldn't be easy.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6 anonymous_farmer

    "Ideally should be no need to push in silage in the morning. However I suspect you have a pit and Are putting out one day's feed at a time"

    Yea, feeding off pitt silage over the winter.

    Finish closer to 30 months generally, the last group went before Christmas.

    Oldest animal at the moment is 23 months so will finish at grass and youngest is 9 months.

    The 2Lu would be 2 animals.

    Kind of a strip grazing set up but separate paddocks could be an option.

    I there any point getting into grass measurement when not in dairy?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,260 ✭✭✭ JustJoe7240

    Would be putting out twice as many blocks if I were you, Push in the second evening and they'll have it cleaned out the next day. ,

    Grass is the cheapest feed you can have, measuring is the key to getting the most out of it.