How many herds were the 2020 calf team sourced from on Green Acres farms?

Similar to last year, the 12 farmers participating in the Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme used a number of methods to source calves this spring and in the autumn of 2019.

A lot of valuable lessons can be taken from the first year of the programme (2019). The participating farmers used a number of methods to source calves last spring. So, in light of this, all farmers aimed to source calves directly off the farm of birth and from as few sources as possible.

Purchasing calves direct from dairy farmers can have many benefits for calf-to-beef finishers. Firstly, beef farmers know the health status of the dairy herd and they can be confident that the calf has received an adequate amount of colostrum.

They can also be confident that the calf has been managed correctly in terms of milk, nutrition and water in the early days of life, which allow the animal to reach its weight targets in the future months.

It may also be possible for the calf to have received its first vaccinations prior to arriving on the beef farmer’s farm.

One of the major problems on dairy calf-to-beef farms is the purchase of calves that do not reach their growth potential due to disease in the young calf’s life, which results in poor performance in the future.

The following data has been compiled by the Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme management team, consisting of Alan Dillon, James Fitzgerald and Seán Cummins.

The details of each farm are outlined in the table (below). Overall, the total number of herds from which calves were sourced from fell by 44 (125 versus 81 herds).

*Farms purchasing a proportion of autumn-born calves

However, in some cases this was not possible, those operating predominantly autumn calf-to-beef systems tended to buy from more sources due to the lower availability of dairy calves towards the latter half of the year.

In the final article tomorrow, we will examine the genetic make of all the calves purchased in spring 2020.