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Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme Fact Sheets

19 March 2020
Type Factsheet

Improving beef quality with the Dairy Beef Index
With over 1.1 million beef and dairy-beef calves estimated to become available from the dairy herd in 2021, an area that warrants consideration for both dairy and beef producers alike is the marketability of these calves.
Influenced by the use of easy-calving, short gestation sires and a breeding programme rewarding ‘easier-maintained, lighter’ cows, a reduction in the carcass quality from dairy-origin animals has been witnessed over recent years. To address this issue, the Dairy Beef Index (DBI) – developed by the ICBF and Teagasc – was launched in January 2019.
Find out more here Improving beef quality with the Dairy Beef Index 

Once-a-day feeding of milk replacer
Twice-a-day (TAD) feeding of milk replacer continues to remain the most widespread method of rearing calves on calf-to-beef operations. Although not suitable to every farm, once-a-day (OAD) feeding of milk replacer is another option available. However, a high degree of stockmanship is required to ensure that adequate performance is achieved and calves remain healthy.
Find out more here Once-a-day feeding of milk replacer 

The first 12 weeks at grass for dairy-beef calves
When calves underperform during their first season at pasture, it makes it difficult to hit the key performance indicators – irrespective of system – further down the line. Failing to hit an average daily gain target of 0.7-0.8kg/day results in delayed slaughter, the production of lighter carcasses and/or the introduction of additional concentrates to try and recover the loss in performance recorded over the first grazing season. Therefore, ensuring calves perform to their optimum over the first 12 weeks of life is important.
Find out more here The first 12 weeks at grass for dairy-beef calves 

Weanling health and nutrition
The primary aim of the winter housing period on calf to beef farms is to ensure weanlings are primed to perform at grass next spring. To achieve this, an average daily gain (ADG) of 0.6kg is required and, for this to occur, health and nutrition must be prioritised.
Find out more here Weanling health and nutrition 

Finishing options for Holstein Friesian steers
Holstein Friesian males are the most numerous animal available from the dairy herd for beef production. Approximately 350,000 are available annually, with 75% of these finished as steers. A number of finishing options are available, including: 21; 24 and 28 month systems.
Find out more here Finishing options for Holstein Friesian steers 

Calf purchasing and budgeting
Buying the right calf at an appropriate price, optimising nutrition and health, along with limiting disease pressure, are critical to the overall level of performance and profitability achievable from calf to beef systems.
Find out more here Calf purchasing and budgeting