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Beef 2014: The Business of Cattle

Eight and half thousand beef farmers are attending Beef 2014 at Teagasc, Grange, County Meath today, Wednesday 18th of June to see the largest display of beef technologies ever staged. This event is particularly important given the value of the beef industry to the Irish economy and the uncertainty at farm level because of the recent reduction in beef prices.

Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “Beef farmers have faced difficult market conditions over the last six months. We see it every day through our advisory services when working with beef farmers. Today’s event, beef 2014, is focused on the technical improvements that individual farmers can make inside their own farm gate to improve their efficiency, productivity and protect their businesses from market shocks. We can provide the best research backed technical advice to improve their business.”

This major event is focussing on a roadmap for more profitable beef farming under Irish conditions. Beef farmers are being informed that the challenge within the farm gate is to increase the competitiveness of their farming business through the adoption of key technologies in relation to beef genetics, grassland management, herd health and adoption of efficient beef production systems. A comprehensive book is being distributed which described how this can best be achieved.

Visitors can hear how ‘Ireland’s competitive advantage in sustainable beef production is based on the efficient production and utilisation of pasture; this is still the only viable model of producing beef in Ireland for a competitive world market. The latest results from the Derrypatrick and Maternal Index herds were presented, with the Derrypatrick herd achieving an average gross margin of €900/ha over the last three years. Additionally beef farmers that participated on the Teagasc/Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm Beef Programme were shown to have increased profit by 66% over a three year period from productivity gain.

Pearse Kelly, Head of Drystock Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc, said: “It is critically important that beef farmers have a farm plan in place and that this sets out the production strategy for the farm including breeding, pasture management and system such as weanling, store, or finishing, to optimise profitability.”

The Farmer Forum at the Open Day called ‘My Future in Beef’ heard from leading beef farmers as to the direction they are taking their farming business. Farmer speakers emphasised the importance of achieving high performance using the best technologies available to them. However they also emphasised that the meat industry needs to give better direction on market specification to support the long term viability of the suckler beef herd.

Key stakeholders were also present which included DAFM, AHI, Bord Bia, UCD, HSA, Enterprise Ireland and beef processors. ICBF in conjunction with beef breed societies and AI organisations outlined their plan to identify and progeny test top maternal bulls from Irish beef herds.

The Open Day provides an opportunity for beef farmers and other stakeholders to discuss these recent developments in beef production technology with Teagasc staff. FBD Trust, were the overall sponsor of the Beef 2014 Open Day.