UGS looks forward to Tyrone visit

UGS Secretary George Reid (left) with host farmer Oliver McKenna (centre) and incoming President Sam Watson (right).
UGS Secretary George Reid (left) with host farmer Oliver McKenna (centre) and incoming President Sam Watson (right).

Co Tyrone suckler farmer Oliver McKenna will host the next visit of the Ulster Grassland Society on Thursday, August 25, with registration at 6.30pm, ready for a prompt 7pm start.

Oliver is one of ten farmers participating in the Northern Ireland suckler beef programme in conjunction with the IFJ. He manages a herd of 50 suckler cows which are split between autumn and spring calving to best use the resources of the farm which has a fragmented land base. Spring herd progeny are marketed as both stores (14-15 month old) and finished steers, with autumn born male calves finished as bull beef at under 16 months of age.

The differing categories of stock means that Oliver can optimise the use of spring grass for cheap weight gain while autumn calving dry cows can be grazed on poorer ground and offers a degree of flexibility in poorer weather.

Visitors to the farm will be able to view the stock and see grassland improvements that have been developed in recent years. A rotational grazing system is used and Oliver regularly measures grass cover on the farm to aid good utilisation. The plan is to calve down 60 cows next year which will increase the farm stocking rate to 2.20 Cow Equivalents (CE) per ha, compared to 1.8 CE/ha three years ago. Artificial Insemination has been used for the past three years with the aim of maintaining hybrid vigour from a three breed cross of Simmental, Limousin and Hereford.

The farm walk will be at 12 Tulnafoil Road, Eskra, BT78 2RX, which is two miles off the Omagh, Ballygawley Road. A cup of tea will be available on arrival at 6.30 pm with the farm walk commencing at 7pm. A barbeque meal will be available after the walk at a cost of £15 to non-UGS members.

Those wishing to attend should contact the Secretary at 07920 037 910 by 19th August or for further information please email