Is contract rearing for you?

Jan 28, 09:22 AM

Drystock farmer (contract rearer and sheep) John O’Connell and drystock advisor Tom Coll join Emma-Louise Coffey to discuss contract rearing.

Tom explains the various arrangements between rearers and dairy cow farmers and explores the various topics discussed at discussion group and the targets the group set for themselves including target weights, fertility and grassland management.

Tom identifies the contract as the most important element of the agreement so that both parties have understanding of who pays for each of the costs associated with rearing, the income per animal for the contract rearer, target weights and fertility targets.

John O’Connell, who is farming in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, explains the evolution of his farm from a 30-35 cow dairy herd in the 1980s to drystock in the 1990s. 

John was completing the profit monitor each year and identified a lack of profitability from his suckler cows compared with his sheep flock, leading to expansion of sheep numbers. In 2015 John was approached by his local Teagasc advisor with an opportunity. John explains he had the winter housing facilities available on farm so felt this option was a no-brainer!

He explains that good grazing infrastructure, grass production and silage quality drive low cost system leading to high profits. John is a member of a contract rearing discussion group where he can bench mark himself against other contract rearers across many performance metrics.

For more information:

https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/publications/2013/GuidelinesContractRearingReplacementHeifers.pdf

https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/rural-economy/farm-management/HeiferRearingCostCalculatorGuidelines.pdf