Teagasc Green Acres Dairy Calf to Beef Programme
The second phase of Teagasc Green Acres Calf-to-Beef Programme started in 2019. It includes 12 commercially-operated calf to beef demonstration farms located nationwide. This programme is supported by two Teagasc specialised advisors. Programme manager Alan Dillon has more information
An economic analysis of a comparable group of farmers in 2018/19 has shown that gross margins/ha on these farms has increased from €658/ha to €696/ha, or an increase of 5.8%. Gross output/ha increased marginally from €1,788 to €1,807/ha. Stocking rate has increased from 1.95 to 2.08 LU/ha, while liveweight output/ha has increased from 1,020 kg to 1,053 kg. Variable costs reduced from €1,130/ha to €1,111/ha. In 2019 calf purchase prices have reduced slightly, but this isn’t enough to compensate for the lower beef price. In addition, fixed costs increased from €602/ha to €617/ha.
Cattle on the programme are weighed regularly. Large farm to farm variation in animal performance is observed. The average housing weight of spring born male calves on the 12 participating farms was 10 kg below target (230kg versus 240kg target). The performance of these animals was also below target over the winter period (0.54 versus 0.60 kg/day). This resulted in spring 2019 born male cattle being on average 20kg lighter at the turnout than the target (290kg versus 310kg).
Comparison of the performance of Holstein Friesian, Aberdeen Angus and Hereford steer
The Holstein Friesian spring-born animals, slaughtered between January and April 2019 had a greater carcasses than their early-maturing counterparts, although of poor-quality in terms of conformation. The higher carcass weight of the Holstein Friesian returned a higher financial return to the participating calf to beef farmers than the Aberdeen Angus or Herford steers. Although the costs of producing these Holstein Friesian steers are higher (approx. €47/head higher variable costs) in terms of their daily feed intakes and additional concentrates required at finish, the differential in calf purchase price (average of ~€72/head over the spring of 2019 and 2020) would not be enough to make up this balance and to justify the additional calf purchase price associated Aberdeen Angus and Herford calves for the farmers participating in the Teagasc Green Acres Programme.
Calf purchase price
Calf prices in spring 2020 have reduced compared to 2019 levels (Table 1). The average price was €64 for Holstein Friesian bulls, €122 for Aberdeen Angus bulls, €149 for Hereford bulls and €220 for continental males this spring. The average price for Aberdeen Angus females was €129, Hereford heifers was €139 and €216 for the continental heifers.