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Beef-Quest: on a mission to reduce finishing age

Beef-Quest: on a mission to reduce finishing age

Paul Smith, Mark McGee, Bernadette Earley, Edward O’Riordan, Paul Crosson and David Kenny, Teagasc Grange, and Alan Kelly (UCD), outline the new Beef-Quest Project.

Reducing mean finishing age of prime beef cattle from 26 to 22-23 months by 2030 is fundamental to achieving Ireland’s 25% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture. Nationally, mean age at finishing is six to nine months later than on grass-based research and high-performing commercial farms. There is an urgent need to identify and quantify factors impeding Irish beef farms from achieving potential liveweight targets throughout the animal’s lifetime.

Collaborative research

The Teagasc-led Beef-Quest project aims to investigate the effects of nutrition, health and on-farm environment factors in constraining animal growth performance and finishing age of beef cattle, and assess their impacts on GHG emissions. In collaboration with the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and UCD, this project will use data available within the industry. A new large-scale on-farm study is planned to generate new data and expressions of interest for participant farms will be sought in the coming months.

Beef-Quest will identify, quantify and rank the primary on-farm technical and behavioural-related issues negatively impacting finishing age. Using this new information more targeted, high-impact and deliverable solutions can be proposed and disseminated to reduce finishing age, thus improving the sustainability of Irish beef.

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