Beef breed societies meet to discuss concerns

A number of Ireland’s pedigree beef breed societies met this week to discuss concerns relating to the direction that the national suckler herd is currently being taken in.

It is understood that representatives from 10 or 11 societies attended the meeting in Athlone.

A representative from one of the societies told AgriLand that the meeting was “very productive” and that all of the societies are now on the “one wave length“.

Further meetings are expected to take place in the coming weeks to discuss potential proposals that would benefit the national suckler herd.

Concerns in relation to the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), the quality of cattle passing through marts and the reliability of the Euro-Star Indexes have come to the fore in recent weeks.

Last month, the Irish Charolais Cattle Society (ICCS) – along with the manager of Cashel Mart, Alison De Vere Hunt – appeared before the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine to highlight these concerns.

Also Read: Irish Charolais Cattle Society steps into the ring with ICBF

During the same meeting, a delegation from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) were present to give an update on the progress of the BDGP scheme.

‘Positive change’

The BDGP scheme was introduced in 2015 with the objective of using genetics/genomics to address the “decline in key maternal traits” within the national suckler herd and, in doing so, improve the profitability and carbon efficiency of the country’s national cattle herd, according to the ICBF.

Approximately 24,000 farmers – along with about 550,000 cows – are understood to be participating in the scheme, the federation added.

The highlights from the implementation of the scheme to date include:
  • Significant improvement in key maternal traits;
  • A steady improvement in carcass output from the suckler herd;
  • A reversal in the genetic trend for replacement index;
  • Confirmation that five-star cows are more climate efficient.

In a statement released this week, the ICBF stated that the BDGP scheme is “leading positive change in the suckler beef industry”.

“It is most reassuring to see maternal traits now improving in the national suckler herd, along with the continued gains in terminal traits.

“On that basis, it is becoming clear that the scheme is an excellent example of success for: the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; the ICBF; Teagasc; the beef-breeding industry; and beef farmers,” it concluded.