It's beef farming but not as we know it
Live online auctions and ultrasound technology are being used by US beef farmers in the battle against falling prices
Published 28/10/2015 | 02:30
American farmers have embraced the use of science and technology on their farms, as they cope with what they call a 'price overcorrection'.
They've witnessed a record drop, with prices dropping 33pc over the last year, from $172 (€156) last November to $115 (€104) per hundred weight live, or €2.98 to €1.99/kg live weight.
On the Irish Aberdeen-Angus Producers Group study trip, Irish farmers met some of the top beef and dairy farmers in Nebraska and Colorado.
Nebraska is known as the 'Beef State' as cattle are the state's largest single industry. Last year, Nebraska took over from Texas as nation's top cattle feeding state.
Yet some of the practices on the US farms would fall foul of EU legislation.
These include the use of hormone growth promoters and now the feeding of Optaflexx, a feed ingredient that increases live weight gain and has a similar effect on the animals as angel dust had in the past in Ireland.
However, there were many practices in use on the farms that are legal in the EU also.
These include the use of electronic ear tags, hi-tech ultrasound to detect marbling, biological fly control, customised vaccinations, on-farm live internet cattle auctions and specialised cattle handling facilities/practices. Some of these are already in use and others may have benefits for the Irish beef industry in the future.