Newford Beef Farm
Teagasc and Dawn Meats are establishing a new stand-alone suckler herd at Athenry, Co Galway. The herd will be run on a fully commercial basis and will demonstrate the potential of a moderately large suckler beef farm to generate a viable family farm income when operated to the highest level of technical efficiency. It is modelled on the Greenfield Dairy farm in Kilkenny.
It will develop and demonstrate world-best practice in suckler beef farm systems in terms of economic, environmental and animal welfare sustainability while setting new benchmarks for achievable performance, and will be an important aid in the transfer of the successful technology to beef farms throughout Ireland.
There will be detailed measurement and analysis of financial and animal performance and all data will be disseminated by Teagasc. It is expected to attract large numbers of farmers and discussion groups once established.
The Suckler herd will be located on land currently rented by Teagasc and which is not required for the Teagasc sheep research programme. It is anticipated that cows will calve down on the farm in the Spring of 2015.
Dawn Meats will own the herd and will finance the enterprise. The model of the Greenfield Dairy Farm is that a commercial interest operates the farm, owns the animals, employs the labour, with Teagasc providing expert advice, and has full access to all data for analysis and dissemination purposes.
Teagasc’s main role will be to provide advice in the establishment and operation of the farm and the dissemination of information from this farm to the wider Irish beef farming community through the advisory services. It’s anticipated that the information will be of significant help to those producers who are planning a long term future in profitable, low-cost beef production.
The 100 suckler cows and their progeny, which will be brought to slaughter, will be located on 58 hectares of land currently rented by Teagasc.
Teagasc Sheep Research Programme
The Teagasc Sheep BETTER Farm programme, which involves commercial hill and lowland sheep producers, is expanding from 10 to 13 farms in 2015. In recent years, Teagasc has also established a very successful research-demonstration farm at Athenry utilising a flock of 400 ewes. Teagasc have sufficient land at Athenry for the sheep research programme, with 128 hectares of land allocated to it, and 1,200 ewes plus lambs, replacements, rams and other sheep maintained for research purposes. This is the capacity of the farm to winter house ewes following the completion of a major investment in sheep research facilities on the owned lands at Athenry.
Teagasc is initiating a major new sheep genetics research programme. In August of this year, Teagasc imported breeding ewes and rams from New Zealand. A study, in collaboration with Sheep Ireland, will compare Elite New Zealand and Irish Suffolk and Texel genotypes. A separate study to look at Sheep genomic selection will also be undertaken in collaboration with Sheep Ireland.