Video: Why every beef farmer should attend the IGA Beef Conference

The Irish Grassland Association (IGA) will hold its National Beef Conference in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, Co. Laois, on Thursday, June 20.

This year’s conference – which is sponsored by MSD Animal Health and Mullinahone Co-op – will involve two sessions and an afternoon farm walk.

The first session – which will be chaired by IGA council member and Teagasc’s Christy Watson – will involve speakers including Teagasc beef specialist Aidan Murray, agri consultant John Geraghty and Matt Dempsey.

Aidan Murray’s talk will be based on the profitability of suckler farming, while John will focus on soil health.

The second session will be chaired by IGA council member and Grassland Agro’s Stan Lalor. This session will involve a panel discussion among three progressive and well-known beef farmers: Robin Talbot; Eddie Connell; and Thomas O’Connor.

The farm visit

After lunch, a farm visit will be held on the farm of Ken Graham, a suckler-to-beef farmer located just outside Mountrath, Co. Laois.

Some 55 cows take centre on the holding, with all male progeny brought to beef under 16 months-of-age, while heifers are finished at 21 months.

The suckler herd and two stock bulls are grazed in paddocks 1ha in size and fattening heifers are grazed together in an additional group.

Topics to be covered:
  • Farm overview;
  • Stock performance and breeding;
  • Grassland management;
  • Economic performance.

Good grassland management skills complement Ken’s system, with the 40ha farm split into 34 paddocks which can be split further if required. In addition, excluding 2018, just under 10t DM/ha was grown and utilised on the farm – which has a stocking rate of 2.31LU/ha and a beef output of 834kg/ha of LW (live weight).

The spring-calving herd has an impressive calving interval of 361 days, a calving window of nine weeks and 1.05 calves/cow/year.

On the farm, all breeding targets are hit, with all heifers calving down at 24 months. The combination of excellent herd fertility combined with superb grassland management results in a gross margin/ha in 2018 of €634.

This is back when compared to 2017 a gross margin/ha of €981 was achieved. However, the drop in profitability was as a result of additional feed costs incurred during the 2018 drought.

When and where?

This year’s IGA Beef Conference and farm walk will take place on Thursday, June 20, at the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, Co. Laois, on Thursday, June 20, from 10:00am.

Pre-booking is essential as places are limited. For further information and to book your place, visit the Irish Grassland Association website.