Farmers have been asked to reduce the average slaughter age of their cattle to 22 months by 2030 in the government’s Climate Action Plan 2023 which has been published this afternoon (Wednesday, December 12).

Included in the plan is a range of measures that will impact all aspects of agriculture. These measures are the roadmap for achieving the emissions reductions targets for the agricultural sector by 2030.

Two of the key targets mentioned in the report are reducing age at first calving of suckler cows and reducing the average slaughter age of cattle.

Cattle slaughter age

The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the plan aim for an average cattle finishing age of 24-25 months of age by 2025. The plan also states an average cattle finishing age of 22-23 months should be targeted by 2030.

The average slaughter age of steers in Ireland is currently 26.5 months.

The plan also outlined measures to encourage farmers away from cattle and beef production. This is described as ‘providing diversification options for livestock farmers’.

Some of these ‘diversification options’ mentioned in the report include anaerobic digestion (AD), forestry and tillage.

Other agri climate measures

Plans to expand the land area in the organic sector, as well as reducing the level of chemical nitrogen used on farms and increasing the level of protected urea used on farms are also mentioned.

The above measure is referred to in the report as ‘changing how we fertilise our land’.

Some of the methods mentioned in the Climate Action Plan for tackling methane emissions include developing a slow-release bolus which could be administered to cattle on grass and would reduce the level of methane being emitted from cattle at grass.

As well as this, promoting improved animal breeding through focusing on low-methane traits was also mentioned as a method of reducing methane emissions from the cattle herd.

The plan explained that the delivery of the measures “will be kept under constant review with further policies, measures and actions brought forward to address any failure or projected failure as required, including as part of the annual update of the Climate Action Plan”.

Stay tuned to Agriland for further updates on the Climate Action Plan.