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Teagasc Supporting Sustainable Beef Farming

Supporting Sustainable Beef Farming is the theme of a major Teagasc Open Day, Beef2022, taking place at the Teagasc Beef Research Centre in Grange, County Meath today Tuesday, 5 July. The focus is on the application of technologies that will help beef farmers increase the profitability and environmental sustainability of their family farm businesses.

Teagasc Supporting Sustainable Beef Farming

Speaking at the Open Day, Teagasc Director, Professor Frank O Mara, said; “Beef farming is the most widespread of all farm enterprises with the sector making a key contribution to the Irish economy, particularly in rural areas. Beef farmers face many challenges, with farm level profitability and meeting environmental obligations being the two biggest challenges now. At today’s Open Day, the latest research and advice is available to cattle farmers to assist them address these challenges. The continued development of the beef sector is crucial for the viability of rural areas throughout the country.”

Paul Crosson, Teagasc Beef Enterprise Leader said; “Management can improve the performance of cattle enterprises, through more efficient use of available resources, boosting both economic and environmental returns. Optimising the performance of animals at pasture and reducing the age of slaughter can improve farm economics per hectare and reduce Greenhouse gas emissions.”

The first stand at the Open Day today shows that the most efficient farms are the most profitable and produce beef with a low carbon footprint. The Teagasc research programme is seeking to develop the ‘next generation’ of solutions to further reduce the environmental footprint of beef. In particular, Teagasc has invested heavily in research to mitigate methane emissions from beef cattle, which predominantly emanate from ruminant digestion. The early results from this are very promising and communicated in the Signpost village at Beef2022.

Implications of increased costs for farmers and options for 2022

The increases in input costs facing beef farmers, which were emerging towards the end of 2021, have accelerated in 2022.  It remains to be seen if these large input cost increases will be sufficiently covered by the beef prices currently being received by farmers. 

The options open to farmers to mitigate the impact of rising costs on farms were outlined at the Beef2022 Open day. These include strategic marketing of animals to avail of high beef prices, selling non-productive and inefficient performers, completing cash flow budgets for your own farm, managing inputs more efficiently, and concentrating on grazed grass as the cheapest feed available. 

Specific options outlined to reduce inputs include soil testing, using protected urea fertilizer instead of CAN, using low emissions slurry spreading methods, incorporating clover into grass swards and increasing grass utilisation.

A comprehensive booklet covering all topics discussed at the Open Day is available at https://www.teagasc.ie/publications/2022/beef2022---supporting-sustainable-beef-farming.php