Virtual Beef Week recap: All the action from [email protected]

Over the past week, AgriLand partnered up with Teagasc to bring you live coverage of Virtual Beef Week. 

The Virtual Beef Week replaced the Teagasc BEEF Open Day which was due to take place on July 7, at the Teagasc Animal and Grassland research and innovation centre, Grange, Co. Meath.

Five episodes of [email protected] were streamed across all AgriLand platforms which saw various different topics covered by a variety of speakers across the week.

Monday

Monday’s episode of [email protected] saw updates given from the suckler beef research at Teagasc Grange, along with how that research has been implemented at farm level.

This session was chaired by Dr. Paul Crosson. On the night, we heard from suckler-to-beef farmer Artie Birt on how he handles the breeding season on his Co. Down-based holding.

Prof. David Kenny talked about his research on bull fertility and on synchronisation programmes that are being used to improve compact calving and the use of AI at farm level.

Frank O’Sullivan, who is the vet at Teagasc Grange, discussed the practical steps farmers need to look at if they are to reduce their antibiotic use and the role of herd health planning on suckler farms.

In addition, Dr. Orla Keane discussed her work on parasite control, anthelmintic resistance and where suckler farmers could improve.

Tuesday

On Tuesday, the main topic of discussion was on calf selection and it was facilitated by Pearse Kelly of Teagasc.

Siobhan Ring discussed breeding tools available to farmers such as the Dairy Beef Index (DBI) and how it can be effectively used by dairy and beef farmers.

A feature video was shown on the Long brothers – Richard, Michael and Liam – who operate independent dairy and beef enterprises.

Dr. Nicky Byrne discussed different calf-to-beef systems and how to select the most appropriate system for your farm.

Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme participants Martin Connolly and Aidan McGuire spoke about their farming systems since they joined the programme.

Finally, Sean Cummins discussed lifetime liveweight targets for calf-to-beef systems and he also provided an update on the animal performance from the Teagasc Green Acres programme.

Wednesday

The theme of the third day of [email protected] revolved around environmental sustainability of beef production in Ireland and what steps Irish farmers can take to reduce the environmental footprint of their cattle enterprises.

On the show, beef farmer Philip Rochford discussed why he purchased a trailing shoe in 2008.

Mark Plunkett then spoke about the practical steps farmers can take to reduce ammonia emissions, such as using protected urea and using low emission slurry application methods.

Dr. Mike Egan, a Teagasc grassland researcher, discussed how white clover can be incorporated into grass systems for beef production and how artificial fertiliser use can be lowered.

Furthermore, Andrew Cromie from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) talked about the contribution good genetics and breeding can contribute to sustainable beef production.

Finally, Eddie Burgess – from the Agricultural Catchments Programme – provided an update on water quality and on what simple measures farmers can take to improve water quality.

Thursday

The fourth day of [email protected] centred around how to grow more grass on farms.

The discussion entitled ‘How my farm grows more grass?’ involved suckler farmer Sean Roddy from Co. Kildare. Throughout the show, video clips from Sean’s farm were broadcasted, detailing how he: corrected soil fertility; implemented a paddock system; and managed his grass at different times of the year.

Teagasc’s Aidan Murray led the discussion and he was also joined on the panel by Teagasc advisor Christy Watson and Edward O’Riordan from Teagasc Grange.

Friday

The final day of [email protected] discussed the major challenges facing the beef sector.

Such challenges included: climate change; biodiversity; water quality; animal welfare; and the biggest challenge of all – low incomes faced by beef farmers.

Director of research in Teagasc, Prof. Frank O’Mara introduced the session, while professor of agri-food economics at University College Cork (UCC), Thia Hennessy chaired it.

On the night Prof. Gerry Boyle and the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Tim Cullinan, were present at the discussion.

We also heard from MEP vice president, Mairead McGuinness, who gave an insight into the EU’s perspective on the major challenges facing the Irish beef sector, along with the views of the new Minister for Agriculture, Barry Cowen, remotely.