12 FEBRUARY 2019

ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham has said that the bull beef trade is extremely frustrating at the moment for farmers. “There are enormous difficulties with bull beef at present. Since the start of 2019, I have been inundated with calls from farmers struggling to get young bulls killed. Farmers with dairy breed bulls are particularly badly impacted. Most factories don’t want to know about dairy bull beef. Farmers with continental bulls are faring out a little better but delays in getting bulls killed is also a problem for them.”

“It is high time we had clarity on the outlook for dairy bull beef in particular. It seems to us that this enterprise is a complete waste of time. It’s bad enough losing money but to have the stress of not knowing when or if you can get your bulls killed is completely unacceptable.”

“I am calling on Teagasc to make it very clear that farmers should not get involved in dairy bull beef production. Friesian bulls are just about making €3.00-€3.10 at present while ordinary bulls are getting €3.50-€3.60, which is still back a good .40c on this time last year. It is way too high of a risk and even if markets improve to the extent that there is a steady demand, the economics of dairy bull beef simply doesn’t stack up.”

“Apart from the cost of feeding animals that grade below R, handling dairy bulls is high risk in terms of health and safety. Wear and tear on facilities with bulls is another factor never properly costed. But it is undoubtedly the case that feed barriers, drinking bowls and dividing gates do not last intact for long with bulls compared to heifers or steers. There is no doubt that continental U grade bulls are far more efficient converters of feed but the risks and rewards from dairy bulls just don’t stack up at all.”