‘Farmers should be discouraged from dairy bull beef’ – ICSA

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said that farmers should be actively discouraged from getting involved in dairy bull beef production, given the market environment.

Edmund Graham – the association’s beef chairman – said: “I am calling on Teagasc to make it very clear that farmers should not get involved in dairy bull beef production.”

He also said that farmers with dairy-breed bulls were the worst affected, claiming that factories “don’t want to know about dairy beef”.

Since the start of 2019, I have been inundated with calls from farmers struggling to get young bulls killed…farmers with continental bulls are faring out a little better, but delays in getting bulls killed is also a problem for them.

“It is time we had clarity on the outlook for dairy beef in particular. It seems to us that this enterprise is a complete waste of time. It’s bad enough losing money, but to have the stress of not knowing when or if you can get your bulls killed is completely unacceptable,” argued Graham.

Graham claimed that the economics of dairy bull beef doesn’t “stack up” – even if there was an improvement in the market.

Apart from the cost of feeding animals that grade below R, handling dairy bulls is high risk in terms of health and safety. Wear and tear on facilities with bulls is another factor never properly costed.

“There is no doubt that continental U-grade bulls are far more efficient converters of feed, but the risks and rewards from dairy bulls just don’t stack up at all,” concluded Graham.