3 key technologies to boost profitability at BEEF 2018

The adoption of key technologies in relation to animal genetics, grassland management and herd health are vital to increasing the profitability of beef production in Ireland.

This was the message from Director of Teagasc, Prof. Gerry Boyle speaking at the BEEF 2018 Open Day in Teagasc Grange, Co. Meath, today (Tuesday, June 28).

Facing challenges

Speaking at the event, Prof. Boyle said: “The beef sector faces significant challenges arising from Brexit, reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and climate change.

“However, key technologies, which are under the farmer’s control, can help farmers face these challenges and can have a large influence on farm profit,” he stressed.

Three technologies were focused on for boosting productivity and profit in beef farming. These include: key performance indicators; using AI; and grass utilisation and silage.

In relation to suckler beef production, key performance indicators were highlighted.

These include: achieving 0.95 calves weaned per cow per year; age of first calving of 24 months; a 6-week calving rate of 80%; and achieving an average daily weight gain of 1.25kg to weaning, in combination with excellent grazing management.

A new dairy calf-to-beef herd has been set up in Grange.

The key performance indicators for dairy calf-to-beef include: keeping mortality below 3%; and achieving a weight gain of 0.8kg and 0.9kg per day during first and second season at grass.

Additionally, the provision of excellent quality silage for both first and second winter will have a large impact on reducing concentrate supplementation requirement.

The “huge” benefit of using AI in terms of increasing profitability in the sucker herd was highlighted.

These advantages include: much higher levels of genetic gain; large selection of high-index, high-reliability sires; all now being made possible with new developments in heat detection aids.

‘Green gold’

The huge potential from increasing grass production and utilisation was highlighted in the GRASS10 village.

Current grass utilisation on beef farms nationally is 5t DM/ha.

This can be easily increased to 10t DM/ha by: improving grazing farm infrastructure; correcting soil fertility; applying best grazing management practices; and reseeding poor performing paddocks.

For those interested in learning more, the booklet from BEEF 2018 can be downloaded from the publications section of the Teagasc website.