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Impact of adverse weather on suckler beef profitability highlighted at Teagasc, Derrypatrick Open Day


The extreme weather of summer 2012, exacerbated by the prolonged indoor winter feeding period of 2012/13, was evident in the live weight and financial performance of the Derrypatrick suckler beef herd presented at the Grange Open Day today, Wednesday, 11 September. At current prices, gross margin is expected to be down by €330 per hectare relative to the target set for the herd. This reflects the higher feed and fodder costs incurred in the spring of 2013 and the lower animal performance which was due to the early weaning in 2012, the prolonged winter that followed and the lower quality grass silage from the difficult summer of 2012.

Speaking at the open day, Teagasc beef researcher Dr Paul Crosson said that estimated gross margin for the Derrypatrick herd will be €770 per hectare this year. The cow breed comparison showed that the four breed types under evaluation were capable of achieving approximately €1,000 per hectare at current prices but that the dairy beef crossbred delivered 9% higher gross margin than the suckler beef crossbreds.

The 2013 crop of calves achieved excellent pre-weaning live weight gain, while reproductive efficiency was also on target with an overall pregnancy rate of 93%. During the year drainage was carried out on a portion of the Derrypatrick unit, with 4 kilometres of new drains installed. In addition 10.5 hectares were reseeded to try to improve overall grass production and utilisation in future years. The Derrypatrick unit has managed to conserve adequate silage stocks to cover the coming winter period.

The heifers in the new Maternal Index herd were on display at the open day. The Limousin and Angus crosses were selected based on their maternal index and came from both the dairy and suckler herd. They are divided into high and low index groups and the difference in milk yield, reproduction and survival, live weight and grass intakes will be measured over the coming years. After a slow start to breeding, 113 of the 124 heifers presented for breeding in the new Maternal Index herd were scanned in calf, to calve down next March.