Average suckler-to-beef system not viable in the long run – Teagasc

The average Irish suckler-to-beef system is not viable in the long term, according to Teagasc’s Paul Crosson.

Speaking at Beef 2016, the Teagasc Researcher said most Irish beef farms run into the red, as the average cost of production is €2.50c/kg of liveweight or €4.50/kg of beef.

Crosson said it was essential that beef farms generate a margin and based a current national average levels, a 23 cow suckler herd on 40 hectares of land is making a net loss of €3,512 on an annual basis.

However, he said that farmers have two options to increase the profitability on their farm, these are increasing output or improving efficiency.

Crosson gave an example of changes made to the same 40-hectare farm, which would see the farm generating a gross margin of almost €43,000.

By increasing cow numbers to 53 (high output), the stocking rate to 2.22LU/ha and bringing the age of finishing back, Crosson said that the profitability of the farm would improve dramatically.


The Teagasc Better Farm Programme Manager, Adam Woods also spoke at the open day.

Woods told the crowds in attendance that Irish beef systems should focus on grass and the average Irish farm is only growing 4-5t of grass per hectare.

Farmers should aim to maximise animal performance and weight gain from grass, but most farmers aren’t hitting these targets.

Woods also said that once the amount of grass utilised on farms increases, farmers can then focus on maximising animal performance from grass.

He continued to say that farmers should aim to get as much weight gain as possible from grass, as it is the cheapest source of feed available on farm.

And, he said, once farmers have managed to increase both the amount of grass grown and live-weight gain from grass, they can then focus on increasing the stocking rates on their farms to increase output.