The second evening of the live, interactive Teagasc Virtual Beef Conference webinar kicks off tonight (Wednesday, December 8) at 8:00p.m – with tonight’s focus being on targeting an earlier slaughter age in prime cattle followed by a panel discussion on the impact of rising input prices on beef farmers in 2022.

Join online this evening at 8:00p.m from any device, to hear the latest research and advice on topics that are going to be of significant importance to all beef farmers over the coming years. In addition, you can take the opportunity to put your questions to the panel of speakers.

Dr. Paul Crosson, beef enterprise leader at Teagasc Grange Research Centre will give the first presentation on the implications of slaughter age for beef cattle on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on this evening’s session, moderated by Matt O’Keeffe.

Will reducing slaughter age reduce emissions?

When cattle and sheep consume grass and grass silage, bugs in the stomach break this material down and produce methane gas as a by-product of the process.

There are opportunities to reduce the total methane produced by advancing slaughter age; in other words, reducing the number of day’s methane is produced.

There are also potential GHG emissions reductions from lower feed demand, less manure and a reduction in other activities associated with cattle production.

However, methane emissions/day is not fixed and depends on a myriad of factors, i.e. genetics, diet and management.

In particular, higher energy diets tend to increase methane emissions/day and this could offset some of the emissions reduction benefit of earlier slaughter.

GHG emissions from the production of concentrates must also be considered and so the effect of changes in feeding practices need to be assessed carefully. 

Research at Grange has compared alternative beef cattle production systems where age at slaughter and associated feeding management varied. Data on animal performance and feed consumed is available from these experiments and this data is being used to predict methane and total greenhouse gas emissions from these systems.

Rising input prices on beef farms

The second session of the Teagasc Virtual Beef Conference will focus on the impact rising input prices will have on the decisions beef farmers will need to make over the coming 12 months.

The Teagasc Outlook Conference on Tuesday, December 1, estimated that forage costs on beef farms are likely to rise by 33% in 2022 compared to this year and feed costs may rise by as much as 10%. Electricity and fuel costs are also set to rise significantly. 

On the output side though, we are currently experiencing global beef prices that are approaching record levels.

The Outlook conference heard that EU beef production is set to decline in 2022, while also on a positive note is the prediction that imports of beef into the EU are likely to be back next year due to increased shipping costs.

Dr. Kevin Hanrahan, head of Teagasc Rural Economy, will join Prof. Frank O’Mara, Teagasc director and Dr. Paul Crosson, to discuss what all of this is likely to mean for the beef sector.

Click here to see the programme for this evenings Teagasc Virtual Beef Conference where you can also register, if you have not already done so.