Diary date: What’s in store at the IGA beef conference 2018?

The Irish Grassland Association (IGA) will hold its National Beef Conference in the Clanard Court Hotel, Dublin Road, Athy, Co. Kildare, on May 24.

This year’s conference – sponsored by MSD Animal Health and Mullinahone Co-op – will focus on three key areas. These are:

  • Maximising grass growth on beef farms;
  • What the science of breeding can do to increase the chances of genetic gain in the beef herd;
  • Beef producers connecting with the final consumer.

An afternoon visit to the O’Connor family farm near the village of Moone, Co. Kildare, will conclude the event. The farm is run as a partnership by Monica, Tom and their son Thomas. In 2015, Thomas was the winner of the FBD Young Beef Farmer of the Year competition.

Thomas O’Connor

The conference

An impressive line-up of speakers have been announced for the event. Ger Dineen – a suckler-to-beef farmer – will outline how he achieved an output figure of 999kg/ha of LW (live weight) on a heavy farm.

This was achieved by targeting grassland management to grow and utilise high quantities of grass.

Furthermore, Teagasc research geneticist Dr. Donagh Berry will answer the question: Will breeding the best with the best always give you the best? He will also outline the role that science has in delivering on the breeding decisions made at farm level.

Prof. Patrick Wall – a vet and medical doctor – is qualified to comment on the issues that interest both the primary producer and consumer.

In his presentation, he’ll also discuss the importance of establishing good connections between the primary producer and the final consumer in order to achieve sustainability.

The farm visit

The O’Connors run a mixed operation with four enterprises on the farm. These include: beef; sheep; tillage; and pigs.

The beef enterprise will be the focus of the farm visit. The enterprise consists of 90 suckler cows; all male progeny are finished as under-16-month bulls and heifers are slaughtered at 21 months.

Every year, 200 additional young bulls and heifers are purchased for finishing. The O’Connors paddock graze the cattle in large groups during the grazing season.

Grassland management is to the fore with all the farm laid out in 2ha paddocks; there are provisions for subdivisions in all paddocks.

The three pillars supporting output on the farm include:
  • Breeding;
  • Grassland management;
  • Livestock management.

The O’Connors have an annual stocking rate of 3.3LU/ha and a beef output of 1,498kg/ha (LW). In 2017, the amount of grass utilised on the farm stood at 11.5t/ha (dry matter).

When and where?

This year’s IGA beef conference and farm walk will take place on May 24 at the Clanard Court Hotel, Athy, Co. Kildare, from 10:00am.

Pre-booking is essential as places are limited. For further information and to book your place, visit the Irish Grassland Association website.