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Teagasc - Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm Beef Programme (2008 – 2020)

The Teagasc - Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm Beef Programme commenced in 2008 as a beef demonstration farm programme with the aim to show profitable beef production through improving technical efficiency within the farm gate.

The programme was supported by industry over three phases, with Dawn Meats, ABP, Kepak and the FBD Trust providing significant funding that supplemented the resources supplied by Teagasc and the Irish Farmers Journal.  Over those 12 years there have been 70 different beef demonstration farms featured in the Programme, most of whom had a suckler enterprise on their farm.

The Programme focused on:

  • Boosting profitability on farms by reducing production costs
  • Increasing farm output through improved animal performance.

The network of BETTER Beef Farms was spread across all regions so as to be reflective of the land type and farming systems throughout the country. All aspects of production systems were examined and the latest technologies and research were adopted to ensure maximum efficiency. The farmers in the BETTER Farm Beef Programme over the years have been willing to disclose a significant amount of information on their farms, including their profit monitor results, breeding performance, grassland management results and animal health plans.  The dissemination of this information was primarily through the Irish Farmers Journal in weekly print articles and online media, Teagasc website, regular farm walks and by welcoming Discussion Groups onto the participating farms.

Following consultation between all stakeholders in the Programme it has been decided that the current phase of the Teagasc - Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm Beef Programme will finish on the 31st of January 2020.

During 2020, Teagasc are offering a transition programme to all of the BETTER Farm Beef Challenge programme participants. This will involve updating their overall Farm Plan and Nutrient Management Plan.  They will also work closely throughout 2020 with their local Teagasc Business and Technology advisor, a cattle specialist and Irish Farmers Journal staff.  During the current phase, Animal Health Ireland began a pilot IBR control programme with the participants in the programme.  This will continue in 2020.  All of the farmers will also be given a number of technical training days at Teagasc research centres in 2020.

While the BETTER Beef Farm Programme is coming to an end, Teagasc, the Irish Farmer Journal and all of the funders of the programme are committed to suppporting Irish beef farmers to ensure that best practice and the most up to date technologies and research are adopted on farms.  Teagasc’s intention in 2020 is to devise and launch a New Programme that will have sustainable and profitable beef production and the mitigation of gaseous emissions at the core of the initiative.