Breeding is no silver bullet solution to improving farm profitability, according to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

ICBF bosses Andrew Cromie and Sean Coughlan presented to the second beef roundtable meeting in Dublin Castle yesterday and their presentation focused on the work of the ICBF and the essential contribution that better breeding can make to improving on farm profitability.

However, in their presentation they noted that breeding doesn’t offer a silver bullet to the beef industries problems and that chasing short-term solutions in a breeding context will be counter productive.

But, the duo did stress in their presentation to the assembled industry stakeholders that there is great medium-term potential for genetics as a key component of the overall package.

The presentation also highlighted that beef indexes do work and should form the bases of suckler herd replacement strategy. They said  €uro-star index work (undertaken in conjunction with Teagasc) has clearly identified attributes of the profitable Suckler Cow.

The presentation highlighted that 5 stars cows have more calving’s + better weight for age (+6%) = greater output/cow (+16%) as well as a critical link with sustainability (GHG emissions).

“Farmers are keeping the wrong cows (44% are 1 & 2 star). We must encourage change,” they stressed.

Key ICBF recommendations for the sector:

  • Focus on 4 & 5 star Suckler cows.
  • Industry alignment on this is critical in terms of a simple message to farmers
  • Potential to add +€100/cow to suckler beef farmers (and don’t forget the cumulative and permanent nature of the gains). Underlying infra-structure is in place. Now need clear implementation strategy.