‘Milk prices will determine the future sustainability of Aberdeen Angus breeders’

Milk prices, as opposed to beef returns, will determine the future viability of pedigree Aberdeen Angus breeding, according to one of Ireland’s foremost breed exponents.

Co. Meath breeder John McEnroe said that his most important customers are dairy farmers.

“They want to use growthy, easy-calving Angus bulls on replacement heifers and those cows not used for producing their own herd replacements.

“And if the milk price is sustainable, as it is at the moment, these men are prepared to pay that little bit extra for a bull with the right pedigree and the performance figures to back it up.

“Given the continuing growth in milk output, an increasing proportion of Irish beef cattle will come from the dairy sector.”

McEnroe said that it makes sense for dairy farmers to produce beef calves that will command a premium in the marketplace.

“This is why the demand for good quality Aberdeen Angus bulls looks set to remain strong.”

McEnroe added that Aberdeen Angus beef has a tremendous image.

“This is well merited. From a production point of view, the cattle are easily managed. What’s more they can be brought through to finishing weights at an early age, using grazed grass and silage as the main feed sources in their diets.”

McEnroe owns the Liss herd, which is home to 95 pedigree cows.

Brexit-proofing my business means that I am seeking to drive down input costs across the board. And the most effective way of me doing that is to continually review my grassland management practises.

“I am also mindful of the fact that I am selling into Ireland’s dairy and beef sectors; two industries that are facing the same challenges.”

McEnroe is committed to calving replacement heifers down at 24 months.

“I am currently putting the bulls in with 2016-born animals that are now coming up to 13 and 14 months of age.

“I give all our calves the best possible start, which means that they are fit for bulling at an early age. I have found that the practice of 24-month calving in no way takes away from the growth achieved by the heifers as they mature into cows.

“It also means that we are, potentially, getting more calves per cow. Buyers also want the reassurance that the bulls and other breeding stock they are purchasing from us are reared under commercial conditions,” McEnroe concluded.