Day two from the Azores – by Johnny Mackey

Day two from the Azores – by Johnny Mackey


The second day of the European Angus Forum included a visit to a tea plant and a farmers’ cooperative. The latter is a hugely successful operation based on Sao Miguel island (the largest of the nine islands making up the Azores) supplying everything the majority of the island’s mainly dairy farmers need. Some 80,000 cows are milked on the Azores and on the many miles we spent on coaches driving around the islands, most seem to be grazed in small groups of no more than 20 intensively behind electric fences, similar to how the two herds of Aberdeen-Angus cattle were managed that we viewed the previous day.

The following day was based around a trip to a feedlot with 200 cattle in the system at any one time. Aberdeen-Angus bulls and semen used on the island’s dairy cows produced calves that were bought into a feedlot at about three months of age. All stages of the feedlot were receiving the same heavily milled cereal diet fed ad lib with straw acting as the roughage. The straw in itself was interesting to say the least and if our calculations are correct, it was costing €330 per tonne! Not surprising when it came in the form of small vacuum packed bales like the type you would buy to bed your prize winning race horse!

Performance through the system was impressive with bulls reaching slaughter weights of 330kg deadweight at 15mths and heifers 280kg deadweight at 17 mths. Growth rates of more than 1kg a day need to be hit to achieve these weights with the incentive being that buyers require a minimum age of 14 months to ensure the correct level of finish on the animal.

The official delegates meeting takes place tomorrow morning followed by a two more herd visits.