Brian Campion and his father, Ger, run a herd of predominately purebred Limousin cows under a spring and autumn-calving system in Rathdowney, Co. Laois. The family farm consists of 80 acres of land, of this 66 acres are allocated to grassland for the Limousin herd, while the remaining land is used for tillage. Approximately 35 Limousin cows make up the herd, with 80% purebred, while the remainder are run as commercials.
Brian Campion is a part time beef farmer in Rathdowney, Co. Laois
Five years ago, the farm was transferred to Brian and has since undergone many changes. The Laois-based farmer also works full-time off farm, so relies on his father Ger to carry out the day-to-day tasks on the farm. Conscious of this Brian saw a need to make improvements in infrastructure.
“We have invested a lot in terms of facilities to set the farm up, so it can be ran by one person.”
In attempts to make the management of his herd easier, Brian decided to construct a new slatted house, which is home to the autumn-calving herd and their calves during the winter season. The entire shed can hold approximately 25 cows and is equipped with a straw lie-back area for the offspring.
“Generally, we put the autumn-calving herd in there, so it makes the management of the cows and calves easy and it is also easy when it comes to breeding.”
Likewise, Brian has also made major improvements in grassland management. The addition of a paddock system allows for his herd to be managed a lot easier. By adding paddocks every year up to this year has made the management of stock a lot easier.
“The running of the farm is pretty easy; one person can do most of the tasks in a safe way.”
Technology to boost farm efficiency
In addition to the changing infrastructure, Brian also turned to technology to simplify the running of this Laois farm. After piloting the Herdwatch app on a trial basis, three years down the line it is now a vital tool on the farm.
“Since we started using the app, it has definitely made the whole operation much more streamlined.’
Brian is involved in Bord Bia’s Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) and, initially, used Herdwatch to record remedies and movements.
Through Herdwatch Brian can record remedies on the spot. He can also use it for movement purposes for selling bulls and for registering calves. Brian also relies on Herdwatch for efficient weight recording.
“You can see immediately whether an animal has done 0.5/kg/day or 1kg/day, so it can alert you to under performance or a worm burden or a poor milker in terms of the cow.”
Brian also values the app from a breeding perspective. The Limousin breeder uses the breeding feature within Herdwatch to track what cows were served and when, as well as to track repeats.
“I get a notification on ‘watch board’ during the breeding season of what cows are due their first serve or due a repeat. Similarly, with AI, I can record – on the spot – when an animal is inseminated, and I can also log details when it comes to scanning it in terms of weeks in pregnancy.”
The Herdwatch watch board notify's members when a cow is due to calve
Herdwatch has the ability to generate a calving report in the springtime or in the autumn, so Brian can see the list of cows that are calving and when.
Brian describes Herdwatch as a major time-saving tool when it comes to managing his herd and would recommend it for anyone that is part-time farming.
Try the app for free
Getting set up on Herdwatch has never been easier, farmers can now simply download the app and sign up to the FREE-PLAN.
The new Free-Plan which allows farmers to:
- Download their Herd from APHIS (NI), BCMS (UK) or Agfood (IRL)
- Record 5 calf registrations
- Record their medicine purchases
- Record Heat detection and general tasks