Teagasc to host virtual beef conference next week

Next week, Teagasc will host the ‘Virtual Beef Conference 2020’ which aims to provide beef farmers with the latest up-to-date beef research alongside beef technical advice.

The virtual conference will be held online, through live, hour-long webinars daily at 8:00pm on Tuesday (December 1), Wednesday (December 2) and Thursday (December 3).

Over the three evenings a range of topics will be covered by guest speakers, which includes industry experts, alongside Teagasc researchers and specialists.

Farmers will also able to contribute to the event by interacting and posing questions to speakers each evening.

Topics to be covered

On Tuesday evening (December 1), the topic will focus on ‘achieving target performance for weanlings during their first winter’.

Reducing feed costs over the winter and exploiting compensatory growth at pasture will be addressed. Research from Teagasc has shown that there is little point in overfeeding weanlings during the winter but that growing cattle too slowly will reduce their ability to compensate at grass later in life.

The evening will be chaired by Michael Slattery from Drummonds, while the topic will be discussed by Teagasc researcher, Dr. Mark McGee, and Teagasc beef specialist, Martina Harrington.

‘Improving beef health and welfare’ will be discussed on Wednesday (December 2) by Dr. Bernadette Earley from Teagasc Grange and Dr. Doreen Corridan from Munster Bovine.

In recent times there have been suggestions at EU level that the space allowance requirements for cattle on concrete slatted floors should be increased substantially above the current recommended levels.

For finishing cattle it could mean an almost doubling of the pen space required. There have also been calls for concrete slatted floors to be phased out and replaced by more ‘welfare friendly’ floor surfaces.

Dr. Earley will outline the results from recent research trials that addresses both the effect of space allowance and underfoot conditions on indoor finishing cattle performance and welfare. On the same evening, Dr. Corridan from Munster Bovine will outline the most important vaccinations to give to suckler cows pre-calving.

Interest in grass-fed beef

The final evening of the conference will be chaired by Teagasc director, Professor Gerry Boyle on Thursday (December 3).

The topic of ‘exploiting the full potential of Irish grass-fed beef’ will be reviewed by Dr. Edward O’Riordan and Dr. Aidan Moloney from Teagasc Grange. Bord Bia representative Padraig Brennan will also discuss ‘positioning Irish grass-fed beef in the marketplace’.

Dr. O’Riordan will present some of the results from an on-going trial in Teagasc Grange where cattle that were bought in as weanlings are being fed entirely through to slaughter on grass or grass silage and zero concentrates.

Padraig Brennan will speak about the new Grass Fed Standard for Irish beef where qualifying animals must have a lifetime diet of at least 90% grass and grass-forage on a fresh weight basis.

Speaking in advance of the conference, Pearse Kelly, head of drystock knowledge transfer in Teagasc, said:

“The webinars will address practical topics, in terms of improving animal performance, ensuring good health and welfare for beef cattle and the opportunities in grass-based beef production.

We will focus on how to optimise animal performance over the winter period with a variety of contributors sharing their expertise and experience.

Teagasc is urging beef farmers, along with all those involved with beef farming to tune into the event. Pre-registration through the Teagasc website is required to attend the virtual conference.