Massive potential for 'grass-fed' beef exports to the US
The very welcome, albeit long overdue, increase in beef prices has lifted the mood among beef producers.
The news from the US has been an added boost. Grass fed and hormone-free beef is a product that is increasing in American consumer popularity and has massive growth potential.
'Grass fed' beef is classified in the United States as animals that are raised and finished on forage-based diets. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation less than 10pc of world beef production comes from grass fed animals. Both cattle killed off grass and winter-finished in Ireland are ideal for this market.
Some people I have spoken to have misinterpreted the announcement as being solely for animals finished off grass. While excellent work continues to be carried out on grazing systems and grass utilisation, an equal amount of effort is needed on forage conservation (silage making) and the role of high quality grass silage in finishing systems.
Each year a particular issue comes to my attention on a recurring basis. In the past few weeks, a number of farmers have commented on lice being a major issue in their herd. All these farms had carried out standard treatments four to five weeks previously.
Time spent by the animal itching, licking and biting is time not spent eating, cud chewing and thriving.
Tell-tale signs of lice infestation include all of the above along with greasy or blackened hair around the mane and hair loss. All groups of animals can be affected, from suckler cows to finishing animals. Lice tend to increase the nutrition of the animal is poor.