‘The west must not become a rearing ground for Friesian cows’

The west of Ireland must not become a rearing ground for Friesian heifers from the south of the country, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Representing the Roscommon-Galway constituency, deputy Fitzmaurice slammed Teagasc for advising beef farmers to consider contract rearing heifers for dairy farmers at a recent event in Co. Leitrim.

Speaking to AgriLand, he said: “Teagasc is encouraging beef farmers in the west to rear dairy heifers for farmers in the south and it’s shocking.

“From Donegal to Clare and out to Longford, this region is the home of the suckler cow in Ireland – Teagasc should be working to protect this.

It is frightening to think what Teagasc is trying to impose on beef farmers in the west of Ireland.

His comments come after a contract rearing event was held at The Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, last Thursday night (September 27). The meeting attracted up to 170 farmers, with some appearing very interested in getting involved – while others remained sceptical.

Also Read: Mixed response to contract rearing prospects in north-west

The event was organised by Teagasc advisor for Sligo and Leitrim, Tom Coll.

Coll explained to the attendees that, while it may suit some farmers, it is not suitable for all.

He described it as “simply an additional option” for drystock farmers.

‘Rethink’

Meanwhile, Fitzmaurice also expressed other concerns for the future of farming in the west of Ireland.

He said: “Forestry and biodiversity is all that is being encouraged.

“10 years ago, farmers in the west were being encouraged by Teagasc to breed and rear a U-grade weanling that would be suitable for export to the Italian market,” he continued.

He warned that if Ireland does not begin to place more emphasis on its national suckler herd, it will completely lose its live export market for beef. He contends that there is no export market for “bad Friesian cattle”.

The independent TD concluded by calling on Teagasc to “rethink” its advice.

“Teagasc is advising farmers in the north-west to rear heifers for an area (the south) where cows are stacked on top of each other,” he said.