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Dairy Calf to Beef Open Day

Over 1,000 farmers from all over Ireland interested in beef production from dairy offspring attended the Teagasc/Dawn Meats Open Day at the Teagasc Research Centre, Johnstown Castle, Co Wexford on Thursday, 7 July.

Research is taking place into different beef production systems for male calves from the dairy herd finished at five different ages. At the open day, the large attendance of farmers was informed of the latest developments with the production systems being trialled in terms of production efficiency and profitability.

The panel discussion at the open day opened with a presentation from Dawn Meats Agriculture Manager, Sarah Long, on the additional off-site trials run by Dawn Meats with farmers involved in contract rearing and finishing. This was followed by a lively and informative discussion from which the main points to emerge were:

  • There are niche market opportunities for 8 and 12 month veal
  • Animal finished at 16 months is the current market requirement
  • Calf costs, feed price and beef price are all important factors in deciding which route to go down
  • Calf selection is crucial

Blueprints for dairy beef production are critical for generating profit from dairy calf-to-beef systems. The supply of dairy bull calves will increase substantially with the growing global demand for dairy products and the abolition of milk quotas in 2015. The dairy beef research in Johnstown Castle is looking at performance and economics of finishing dairy calves under different production systems; 8, 12, 16 18 and 22 months of age.

Although the study is ongoing, Robert Prendiville, Teagasc Beef Researcher leading the project, said: “Results to date indicate that production systems evaluated are highly sensitive to concentrate input price”. He also outlined how further research is exploring reducing costs within these beef production systems.

Dawn Meats are currently investigating other opportunities to add value to calves from the dairy herd.