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Phase 3 of BETTER Farm Beef Programme Launched

The Teagasc / Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm Beef Programme is going from strength to strength with Phase 3 of the programme involving 27 farmers officially launched on Monday, 30 January in Tullamore. The first two phases have delivered for both the farmer participants in the programme, and for the thousands of beef farmers who have visited the farms and read about the impact of the technologies that have been adopted. The BETTER Farm Beef Challenge is supported by ABP, Dawn Meats, FBD and Kepak.  

The Teagasc / Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm Beef Challenge will be managed by Alan Dillon, while two new advisors, John Greaney and Tommy Cox have been appointed to work with the new participants as they address the challenges ahead.

The gross margins of those participating in Phase 2 of the Better Farm Beef Programme have increased by 52% since they joined the programme in 2012. Technical efficiencies delivered 83% of this improvement. Cattle farmers in every region of the country have had the opportunity to see these improvements implemented on these farms. 

Speaking at the launch, Dr Frank O Mara, Director of Research in Teagasc thanked all the farmers and their families who have participated in the first two Phases of the programme and in particular the new farmers who have volunteered to participate in the new third phase. He acknowledged the commitment and continuing support of the partners in the initiative, ABP, Dawn Meats, FBD, Kepak and the Farmers Journal.  

Dr O Mara said: “Beef farmers continue to face challenges. A focus on soil fertility, good grassland management, better breeding strategies and improvements in animal health, will deliver more robust businesses to overcome market uncertainty created by external factors outside of farmers’ control, such as Brexit.”

Each farmer participant will have to select from a list of mandatory and optional challenges to tackle over the next four years. The BETTER Farm Beef challenges are:

  • Two tonne grass challenge - All farms to aim to increase by 2 Tonne/DM/ha
  • Farm finance challenge - Gross margin target €1250/ha on average
  • Breeding challenge - Increase average replacement value of herd by €20 over course of programme and meet all herd fertility targets
  • Herd health challenge - Aim to reduce antibiotic input by 20% and develop herd health plan
  • Soil fertility challenge -Aim for 70% of farm at index 3 P&K. Ph - aim for 6.1 (5.7 on peat soils)
  • Green farming challenge - incorporate clover into 20% of swards
  • Meet the markets challenge - All farms quality assured. All stock to meet processor specifications.
  • Farm safety challenge - Farms to introduce 2 positive changes annually
  • Mixed grazing challenge -Establish blueprint for successful mixed grazing on farms
  • Labour/structures challenge - Labour use focus/ Drystock farm partnership focus

A regular flow of information on the participating farms will flow through media articles, web content, and social media channels.