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FOCUS MUST BE ON IMPROVING BEEF MERIT OF DAIRY BRED STOCK

Jul 25, 2023 | Latest News, Press Releases | 0 comments

ICSA Beef chair Edmund Graham has said the daily liveweight potential gain of calves born to the dairy sector must reach 1kg/day if beef farmers are to be expected to rear them. “We need to see a significant improvement in the beef merit of calves born to the dairy sector for our beef farmers to have any chance of finishing the animal in a financially viable and environmentally sustainable way,” he said.

Continuing Mr Graham said, “At the moment marts are full of dairy bred animals in the 18-24 months age range that have only achieved a 0.5kg to 0.7kg daily liveweight gain over their lifetime which can only be seen as a non-starter for beef finishers. If the genetic beef merit is not there and we cannot see that daily liveweight gain closer to 1kg then there is no efficiency – no financial efficiency, and no environmental efficiency. Put simply, it is a bad investment on every front. It makes no financial sense to spend exorbitant sums on feed to finish inefficient cattle, nor is it possible to finish these animals earlier as we are being encouraged to do.”

Mr Graham also said he believes the situation is getting worse rather than better. “While there has been much talk about improving the beef merit of these animals, the reality is things are moving in the opposite direction. The focus on sexed semen and high index bulls on the dairy side is having the cumulative effect of producing more extreme genetics that give beef farmers absolutely nothing to work with.”

Mr Graham said it is time for Teagasc, the Government and the dairy industry to work more closely with beef producers on this issue. “The days of expecting low-income beef farmers to take on and finish inefficient dairy bred stock must come to an end. The solution must be improving the beef merit and for this to become a requirement.”

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