Taking the guesswork out of calf-to-beef systems

With the increasing availability of calves on the market, the number of farmers partaking in calf-to-beef systems are likely to increase over the coming year.

And to help farmers take some of the guesswork out of rearing calves, the Irish Hereford Prime producer group has organised a calf rearing information evening.

The group, which is celebrating its 20 year anniversary this year, hopes the event will provide farmers with the most practical information on how to best to run and make a success of a calf-to-beef system.

Top tips when buying and feeding calves

A number of experts will provide farmers with information on how best to manage calves under a calf-to-beef system.

Catherine Carthy, Farm Animal Resident at the UCD Veterinary Hospital will offer farmers advice on buying calves.

She will discuss why it is important to buy calves from a producer who knows the disease status of his/her herd.

The veterinary expert will advise farmers on the best practice when it comes to treating, controlling and preventing calf diarrhoea and pneumonia and if vaccination has a role to play.

Conor McAloon, a specialist in Bovine Health from UCD will cover topics such as calf feeding, what to look out for in a milk replacer and how to manage the calf at weaning time.

Teagasc Beef Specialist, Karen Dukelow will speak on dairy calf-to-beef costs including making the most of grass to reduce costs and maximise live-weight gain.

And finally, Michael Flynn a calf-to-beef farmer from Nenagh, Co. Tipperary will discuss his experiences of bringing Hereford cross calves to beef.

Flynn will rear 170 Hereford cross calves this year, which he will buy in February and March.

These calves will be slaughtered at 21-23 months of age at carcass weights exceeding 350kg.

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When and where

All farmers are welcome to attend the calf rearing event, which will take place in the Horse and Jockey, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

The event will take place on Tuesday, February 14 at 8pm.

Why choose Hereford?

Larger numbers of Hereford cross beef calves have come available from the dairy herd over the last number of years, according to the group’s Chairman, Niall O’Mahony.

The number of Hereford calves has increased for the last few years. There was an increase of 8% last year, as well as an increase of 19% in the two years prior to that.

“This trends looks set to continue this year, we are meeting the demand for our produce and we hope to open some additional markets with this increase in numbers,” he said.

Hereford sires have proved a popular choice among dairy farmers and farmers interested in the calf-to-beef systems.

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“The Hereford breed has stood the test a time, the bulls are noted for ease of calving and provide a short gestation period.

“The breed is also regarded as quite docile and easy to handle, while the calves have good growth rates, are early maturing and are easily finished,” he said. Click here for more information