Why these Laois and Kilkenny-based farmers joined the Twenty20 Beef Club

The Twenty20 Beef Club, which began in April 2019, involves the rearing and finishing of calves – originating from Glanbia suppliers’ dairy herds – under a guaranteed-pricing model in a Kepak slaughtering facility.

The programme was created to sustainably produce and market Irish heifer and steer beef. A fully traceable (input) supply chain underpins the programme (closed-loop) and supports the establishment of industry-leading marketing claims.

The main objective of the programme is to provide a guaranteed market for beef produced by club members, while ensuring a predictable and sustainable pricing structure. This, in turn, enhances the market value of calves emanating from participating herds.

Club members have access to leading-edge technical advice from birth to slaughter, which results in high-quality beef produced in an environmentally and socially-sustainable manner.

Additional value – via complete traceability and transparency – is provided in a number of key areas. These include: genetics and agri-technologies; animal health and welfare; nutrition and grassland management; pricing; and an advanced payment package (optional).

2019 Twenty20 Beef Club members

Farming in Co. Kilkenny, Edward Hennessy milks a herd of 300 cows, with all calves – with the exception of replacement heifers – reared through to beef.

Additionally, the Kilkenny-based farmer operates a tillage enterprise – consisting of 150ac, with most of the crops harvested used for feed on the farm.

After learning about the Twenty20 Beef Club, Edward was instantly interested in getting involved, as he felt the pricing structure offered some price security when animals become fit for slaughter.

“For the last couple of years, I felt the market was so unsure that you didn’t know where you stood when you were finishing the calves that you reared. This way, at least I know what I can’t go below in price,” Edward explained.

Harry Lalor, a suckler and beef farmer in Co. Laois, calves down 120 cows every year and also purchases 120 dairy calves sourced from a Glanbia supplier in his locality; all offspring from the suckler enterprise and indeed the purchased dairy calves are brought through to beef.

Like Edward, Harry also joined the Twenty20 Beef Club in 2019, and he too recognises the advantage of the payment structure of the programme.

The Laois native also notes that the technical advice available – through the club – from both Glanbia and Kepak technical specialists has really benefited his enterprise.

“To be able to pick up the phone and talk to these people directly, and be working with them, really helps.

“Also, you are dealing directly with the factory and are involved in the enterprise together. You can look forward and have the right product that they want as well; so it should work for every party involved.”

For further information on the Twenty20 Beef Club, justclick here

How the pricing structure works?

The Twenty20 Beef Club involves a guaranteed-pricing model and other premiums.

This involves:
  • Average quoted price (AQP): Market value subject to QPS grid at slaughter;
  • Club premium: 15c/kg to 25c/kg;
  • Club protocol bonus: 12c/kg to 20c/kg;
  • Breed bonus (Aberdeen Angus and Hereford): 10c/kg;
  • Seasonality bonus: April 6c/kg, May 10c/kg and June 6c/kg.

Mick O’Dowd, Kepak’s agri-business development manager, said: “Twenty20 Beef Club members will always be paid above the market price for their cattle due to the financial structure and predictability that the club provides.

“All members will have a clear production pathway for their animals right through to the date of slaughter, whilst knowing with certainty how, at a minimum, their animals will perform financially.

“This will provide farmers with greater comfort to invest in growing their beef enterprise and to take a longer-term view of their business.

“Current members have described the programme as something that the Irish beef industry has been looking for – for a long time, as it brings greater certainty to their beef enterprises, from planning, performance and financial perspectives.”

The programme provides a blueprint for sustainable beef production to meet evolving customer and consumer meat-eating trends.

“Irish beef has possibly the highest standards of traceability in the world. The Twenty20 Beef Club adds feed traceability to that through having just one supply source for all farm inputs,” Mick explains.

“The shorter supply chain gives even greater visibility to the end consumer, and the programme is underpinned by specific protocols.

As part of the programme, participating farmers are required to use methane-reducing feed additives in the diets, while also taking steps to support optimum animal health and welfare practices.

Additionally, the highest eating quality genetics will be used across the animals. These animals will also be slaughtered and processed at a younger age which, in turn, reduces that animal’s carbon footprint.

Kepak’s Mick O’Dowd with dairy and beef farmer Edward Hennessy

“For consumers and producers who are conscious about sustainability and personal health, the transparency and routines of the Twenty20 supply chain are best in class,” Mick added.

What are the requirements?

Some 20,000 calves are required for the second year of the programme and both dairy and suckler farmers can apply for the programme.

Suckler farmers can put their suckler-bred animals forward that meet the programme criteria; however, they must also take on board at least 25 dairy calves from a Glanbia herd to rear to be eligible for the programme.

All inputs such as: fertiliser; nutrition (feed, milk replacer, crunch, etc); and animal health products (with the exception of prescription-controlled antibiotics) must be purchased from Glanbia.

Martin Ryan, head of beef at Glanbia Ireland, said: “There are a number of requirements for calves entering the programme. The first requirement is the calves must come from a Glanbia milk supplier; so they are coming from the Glanbia herd effectively.

“There is additional value to be captured by making sure the calves coming into the programme are of a certain quality.

“It’s open to all breeds of calves with the exception of Jersey and Jersey-cross. The objective is to hit a carcass weight of 280-360kg and all the premiums are built on that. Then, there is a minimum requirement of 25 calves per member.”

Every farmer involved will be a member of the club; whether they are supplying or finishing the calf, farmers must follow the protocols for eligibility.

Under the programme, the animal can be moved as a calf, weanling, yearling or be 15 months-of-age or any age; however, an animal is only allowed one movement (zero-to-one movements).

More information

Expressions of interest are now welcome – and ongoing – for this year and, as mentioned above, some 20,000 calves are needed in 2020.

Farmers interested in joining the Twenty20 Beef Club can contact the programme manager, Ross Brady, at: 086-7834252; or at: [email protected].

For further information on the Twenty20 Beef Club, justclick here