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Future Beef Programme in Clare


The Teagasc Future Beef Programme is focusing on reducing inputs and costs of production while increasing the performance of every animal on the farm. Thomas Gleeson, Teagasc advisor introduces James Skehan from Ballynevin, who is Clare's Future Beef farmer

The aim of this programme is to demonstrate to beef farmers how they can produce a quality product as efficiently as possible to make beef farming more profitable while also making it more environmentally sustainable.

The key objectives of this programme are to:

  • Create more sustainable and profitable farms
  • To reduce GHG & ammonia emissions
  • Improve water quality
  • Improve biodiversity

James Skehan - Clare's Future Beef Farm

James Skehan is in south east Clare in a townland called Ballynevin, nuzzled between the towns of Killaloe and O’Briensbridge.

James farms 34 hectares with his wife Joanne and two small children. They both work off farm.  Their farm is fragmented with heavy and light soils. They keep 24 spring calving suckler cows and bring 30 young stock to stores. James’s father Batt is invaluable for on farm support. Their focus now is labour efficiency, financial viability and to setup their farm as a sustainable complementary way of life.

A considerable amount of money has been spent on infrastructure, with new paddocks, water troughts and roadways gone in. This is to facililitae the part-time nature of the farm, but also to increase efficiency. James can move cattle on his own. The improvement will also allow him to get better average daily gains off grass, thus increasing profitability.

He is stocked currently at 93 Kg/N ha.  

The farm is 34ha which is divided into three blocks. One block is mainly silage and the rest are silage and grazing. The land type varies from free draining loam valleys to heavy clay soil along to hillside farming.

All farm buildings are relatively new, with excellent handling facilities and plenty of slurry storage.

Future Beef Farms

The farms selected are representative of their region from farm size, soil type, system, stock numbers etc.  They face the same challenges as their neighbours and are therefore more relatable.  All have a very positive attitude towards suckler farming. They are willing to take on new technologies and develop efficiencies to improve profitability and reduce the negative effects of agriculture on the environment around them.

Performance on the farms participating in the Programme will be recorded throughout the year. Monitoring the farms will allow us to measure the impact of improved technical efficiency on profitability and the environment. All results will be communicated though the Future Beef website, social media, discussion group visits and farm walks. 

We hope to keep you informed regularly on the progress on James Skehan’s farm throughout the course of this programme.  You can keep up-to-date at www.teagasc.ie/futurebeef

For more information on the farms please visit Teagasc Future Beef Programme Farms

Teagasc Advisors write regular articles of interest to farmers here on Teagasc Daily.  Teagasc provides a Local Advisory and Education service to farmers. Find your local Teagasc office here