NI NBA Committee makes plans for winter evening farm walk

David Martin and Ernie Ritchie
David Martin and Ernie Ritchie

The Northern Ireland NBA committee will be hosting a winter farm walk on the evening of Monday, December 3, at David and Ken Martin’s farm in Maghera, Newcastle, County Down.

The farm is an excellent example of a finally tuned, mixed family enterprise unafraid to expand and take on new challenges.

David and Ken’s father Eddie purchased 20 acres in 1947 and since, the farm has expanded to a far greater area including a suckler herd, beef finishing unit, sheep flock, arable, potatoes, contracting, breeding and finishing pigs and is in the process of expanding into the dairy sector.

The beef enterprise works on the principles of good silage, good housing and plenty of fresh air.

The herd of 70 suckler cows are a mix of Lim and British Freisan type cattle crossed with a range of continental stock bulls to produce progeny which grow well and finish under 24 months.

Speaking on their system David commented: “We see far fewer health issues when cattle are wintered outside and through extending the grazing season we have found we can significantly reduce feed costs and labour requirements.”

Cattle are grazed until late December, outwintered on stubble ground at stocking rates of one cow per three to four acres and are only brought in to calf in a block period. The housing is fitted with calving cameras and rubber matting on slats for cattle comfort and ease of management.

Calves are housed at weaning and finished along with 45-50 bought in stores on a diet of home-grown silage, barley, ground maize and refused potatoes. The brothers aim to finish progeny under 24 months at a target weight of 400kg deadweight. All finished stock is sold to ABP who will be sponsoring the event.

Commenting on the farm walk, Ernie Ritchie, NBA Director said: “This farm is a fine example of a busy but well-run farm focusing on a mixture of low cost out wintering mixed with some great slatted accommodation.”

The farm walk will begin at 7pm and will include a range of informative talks and a tour of the beef enterprise followed by a hot meal. Tickets are free for members and £5 for non-members. Please call 01434 601005 to book your place!