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Research Farms at Grange


Grange Dairy Beef Herd

The 'Dairy Calf to Beef' research farm system in Teagasc Grange has a land area of 93ac (37.6 ha).

The herd

Each year, 120 dairy-beef male calves are purchased from dairy farms and are managed under an intensive grass-based system, slaughtering cattle from 19-24 months of age.

Update from DairyBeef 500 Conference January 2023

These calves, compromising of 40 Aberdeen Angus, 40 Aubrac and 40 Holstein Friesians males, had an average arrival date of March 14th, 2022, weighing 55kg at 22 days.

Outline of how these animals have performed from purchase through to housing in the Teagasc Grange dairy calf to beef research herd management notes.

BreedAverage DOBArrival age onto farmArrival weight onto farmAverage arrival date
Aberdeen Angus March 5th 24 days 57kg March 18th
Aubrac February 23rd 22 days 57kg March 17th
Holstein Friesian February 4th 22 days 52kg February 26th
Average February 19th 22 days 55kg March 14th

Animal performance

Before turnout all calves consumed on average 26kg of milk replacer. They had access to ab-lid concentrates a 17% crude protein calf ration along with straw. All calves were weaned when they reached an 85-90 kg liveweight target. The average turn out date for the 120 calves was 30 May 2022 at an average weight of 123 kg. There were breed weights of 118kg, 119kg and 129kg for the Angus, Aubrac and Holstein Friesians, respectively. At turnout, all calves received 2kg of concentrates at grass for the first week and then 1kg in the second week. From week three, they received grass only.

Calf Health

Calf health was exceptional over the summer and autumn due to a strategic herd health plan being implemented. On the 30th November 2022, the last live weight of the calves at grass was taken and they were housed on the 5th December 2022. From turnout date (May 30th) up until November 30th, the average daily gain (ADG) for all calves was 0.90kg over the first grazing season. At this point, the Aberdeen Angus weighed 271kg (ADG 0.9kg), Aubracs weighed 275kg (ADG 0.9kg) and the Holstein Friesians weighed 293kg (ADG 0.89kg).

Housing management

After housing, all cattle were treated for worms, fluke and lice on December 20th. In terms of diet, they were offered 75DMD grass silage along with 1.5kg of 11.6% crude protein ration. All cattle were on an over-winter study, which commenced on January 16th. They are assigned to either red clover and perennial ryegrass silage or perennial ryegrass silage to examine the impact of red clover inclusion on animal performance over the first winter. This will include measures on intake, growth and methane emissions. Both of these silages are being supplemented with 1.5kg/head/day of ration. In terms of quality, the red clover and perennial ryegrass has DMD values of 76% for first and 65% for second; the perennial ryegrass ranges from 71% DMD for first cut to 77% DMD for second cut.

Dairy Beef Index

At the conference Dr Byrne advised that the DairyBeef Index is an excellent tool at identifying suitable sires for use on the dairy herd. It is made up of calving traits, carcass traits and the carbon sub-index and is central to generating animals of high Commercial Beef Value. For beef producers entering the market in spring 2023, Dr. Byrne stressed the importance of using the Commercial Beef Value – which is an estimate of an animal’s own performance.

Summary of Grange Aberdeen Angus steer performance over four years

CBV categoryCarcass weight (kg)Age at slaughter (days)Conformation (1-15)
Very low 285 655 5.2
Low 297 649 5.5
Average 303 653 5.6
High 309 648 5.6
Very high 306 647 5.6
Different 21 -9 +0.4

Performance of Angus steers in Teagasc Grange with differing beef merit values

From DairyBeef 500 Conference Navan March 2023

Animal groupDBIBeef sub-indexCalving difficulty (mature cows)Gestation length

High (high beef sub-index Angus)

€121 €107 3.7 -0.5

Low (low beef sub-index Angus)

€124 €65 2.4 -1.9

 

Animal groupCBVADG (kg)

Slaughter age

(months)

Finishing days

Carcass weight 

(kg)

Carcass conf.Carcass fatValue
High €95 0.91 20.7 70 312 O+/O= 3+/4- €1,639
Low €61 0.87 20.8 73 294 O= 3+ €1,532