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Teagasc Virtual Beef Conference

The Teagasc National Beef Conference will take place as a virtual event this year at 8pm each evening on Tuesday 1st, Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd December. The latest beef research from Teagasc Grange and the best technical advice for beef farmers will be presented as part of a live, hour-long, interactive webinar each evening over the three days.

Speaking in advance of the Teagasc Virtual Beef Conference, Pearse Kelly, Head of Drystock Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc said: “The webinars will address practical topics, in terms of improving animal performance, ensuring good health and welfare for beef cattle and the opportunities in grass based beef production. We will focus on how to optimise animal performance over the winter period with a variety of contributors sharing their expertise and experience”.

Reducing feed costs over the winter and exploiting compensatory growth at pasture will be addressed on the first evening of the conference.  Research from Teagasc, Grange has shown that there is little point in over feeding weanlings during the winter but that growing cattle too slowly will reduce their ability to compensate at grass later in life.  Dr. Mark McGee will address the optimum daily gain for weanlings over the winter months and Teagasc Cattle Specialist, Martina Harrington will outline the steps beef farmers should take to reach these targets.

In recent times there have been suggestions at EU level that the space allowance requirements for cattle on concrete slatted floors should be increased substantially above the current recommended levels.  For finishing cattle it could mean an almost doubling of the pen space required.  There have also been calls for concrete slatted floors to be phased out and replaced by more ‘welfare friendly’ floor surfaces.  Dr. Bernadette Earley will outline on the second evening of the conference the results from recent research trials that addresses both the effect of space allowance and underfoot conditions on indoor finishing cattle performance and welfare.  On the same evening, Dr. Doreen Corridan from Munster Bovine will outline the most important vaccinations to give to suckler cows pre-calving.

The third evening of the conference is focusing on the increasing interest there is in beef that is predominately grass fed.  Dr. Edward O’Riordan will present some of the results from a very interesting on-going trial in Teagasc Grange where cattle that were bought in as weanlings are being fed entirely through to slaughter on grass or grass silage and zero concentrates.  Padraig Brennan from Bord Bia will speak about the new Grass Fed Standard for Irish beef where qualifying animals must have a lifetime diet of at least 90% grass and grass forage on a fresh weight basis.  Speaking in advance of the conference Padraig said; “Consumers strongly associate Ireland with grass fed production and, in many ways, of all the strengths that our beef system possesses, grass fed is the one that resonates most.”

Dr. Paul Crosson, Beef Enterprise Leader, Animal & Grassland, Research and Innovation Programme said; “The programme of the beef conference this year reflects the key opportunities of the Irish grass-based production model. We must optimise animal performance at all stages in the production cycle; recent research findings from Teagasc Grange will be presented highlighting the performance from ‘grass-only’ systems and the importance of indoor feeding and housing management”.

The online Teagasc beef conference is free to join, but registration is required beforehand.  All three sessions are live, with the opportunity for viewers to post their questions for the panellists.  Further details and registration are available at www.teagasc.ie/beefcon20

Conference Programme

Tuesday, 1st December  |  8.00pm

Topic: Achieving target performance for weanlings during their first winter

Chairperson: Michael Slattery, Drummonds

Optimum growth rate for weanling beef cattle during the winter housing period

Dr. Mark McGee, Teagasc Researcher, Grange

Steps farmers can take to improve the performance of beef weanlings over their first winter indoors

Martina Harrington, Teagasc Beef Specialist

Wednesday 2nd December  |  8.00pm

Topic: Improving beef health and welfare

Chaired by: Dr. Conor McAloon, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine

Effect of space allowance and underfoot conditions on indoor finishing cattle performance and welfare

Dr. Bernadette Earley, Teagasc, Grange

Best practice vaccination protocols for suckler cows pre-calving

Dr. Doreen Corridan, Munster Bovine

Thursday 3rd December  |  8.00pm

Topic: Exploiting the full potential of Irish grass fed beef

Chaired by: Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle

Beef production from grass-forage only diets

Dr. Edward O’Riordan & Dr. Aidan Moloney, Teagasc, Grange

Positioning Irish Grass Fed Beef in the Marketplace

Padraig Brennan, Bord Bia