Robert Prendiville, Teagasc, said that irrespective of the production system, it is essential that farmers optimise the production from pasture and maximise the animal productivity when looking at dairy calf to beef production systems.

He says to establish a production system before the calf if born so, when the calf is born you have an idea of when the sale date will be and from there the farmers can utilise the farm efficiently and maximise the production from pasture. “That will focus on a system that has an high output per hectare.”

He goes on to say that there are market differential between bulls and steers due to perceptions in meat eating quality for bulls, that farmers need to be aware of. “It is perceived that as they get older their meat quality deteriorates.”

When milk quotas go in 2015, he says, there will be a large proportion of male dairy calves available for beef production. “The key principles of any system is to focus on maximum our output per hectare.” According to Robert, the main pitfalls from a market point of view is that bulls are highly sensitive to beef prices, while calf purchase price and concentrate purchase price.

Meanwhile, Karen Dukelow, Teagasc spoke about grass and managing grass, the quality and quantity. She talks about the importance of grass height and quality. She shows where grass has gone too strong for grazing. These fields should be cut for hay, she said.