Green Acres: Reviewing breed kill-out performance in 2020

It’s time to take a quick look back on the slaughter performance of animals finished on Teagasc Green Acres Calf-to-Beef farms in 2020.

The year brought some challenges when it comes to market price. However, it proved to be slightly less severe than 2019.

In terms of production, the Green Acres farms are mixed as there is a selection of heifer, steer and bull-beef finishing systems. The breeds on the farms are also split between Holstein Friesian males and early maturing males and females.

In this review, AgriLand takes a look at the slaughter data for 2020 in a breed-by-breed basis which was gathered by the programme’s advisors James Fitzgerald and Seán Cummins.

Holstein Friesian steers

Holstein Friesian steers accounted for the largest percentage of animals slaughtered on the programme farms in 2020. There were a total of 444 head of steers with this breeding, accounting to 45% of the total animal throughput.

There was no set finishing age of steers as systems varied from farm to farm. These males were slaughtered at 21, 24 and 28-30-months-old – with a small minority finished over 30-months-of-age.

When the data was compiled for these steers, the average carcass weight of 325kg was achieved at an age of 27 months. The average carcass conformation was just shy of an O- grade. Looking at the fat scores for these animals, this averaged 3=.

Holstein Friesian bulls

The majority of bulls slaughtered on Green Acres farms were Holstein Friesians that were killed over three farms. The performance data for these males accounts for 154 bulls, at an average age of 22-months-old.

The carcass weight amounted to 320kg, with a conformation score reaching slightly above an O=. In terms of price, the average secured for these animals was €3.45/kg in 2020 – which had seen a slight improvement of 5c/kg compared to 2019.

Early maturing steers

There was a total of 53 Angus steers slaughtered on farm last year, with finishing ages ranging from 22 months-old up to 27-months-old.

At an average age of 25-months-old, these animals graded into an O=/O+ conformation score – alongside a carcass weight of 320kg and fat score of 3=/3+.

Looking at the Hereford steers finished in 2020, these amounted to 42 head on farms. The average carcass weight this time was 315.1kg at an age of 24.8-months-old.

The carcass grades achieved saw 31% fetching an O+ grade, while 38% reached an O=.

Early maturing heifers

Moving onto the female slaughter performance, early maturing breeds claim the majority percentage of heifers finished on Green Acres farms in 2020.

Angus heifers finished on farms reached 85 head and again the slaughter ages varied from 25 months back to 20-months-old. The average carcass weight was 265kg at 24-months-old.

These heifers achieved a grade of O= and a fat score of 3+. The price secured for Angus heifers averaged at €3.74/kg.

From the 63 Hereford heifers finished across four farms, these recorded an average age of 23 months. A carcass weight of 261kg was produced, along with a carcass grade of O+/O=.

Overall, on Green Acres farms a total of 979 animals were slaughtered over the 12-month-period.

With the current beef prices taking a slight set back in performance, it is hoped that the year of 2021 will see improved returns for participating farmers in the programme and beef farmers in general.