Teagsac hope for optimism at beef show
Teagasc are bracing themselves for a mixed reaction at tomorrow's flagship event for the beef sector at their research farm at Grange, Co Meath.
"We're not sure what to expect because we know that there's a lot of dissatisfaction out there in relation to how bull-beef has gone and the potential impact of dairy calves on the trade," admitted the head of Teagasc's livestock systems department, Padraig French.
"But we're hopeful that there'll be plenty of farmers also there to see how they can improve their efficiency," he added.
Among the exhibits that will be open to farmers on the day will be updates on the new phase in Grange's Derrypatrick Herd.
Four years of research into the optimum cow for the suckler herd found that the Limousin-Friesian cross managed to outperform the Charolais-Simmental, Charolais-Limousin and the Limousin-Simmental crossbreeds.
Now the focus has shifted to establishing whether producing young bulls or steers is a more profitable system.
It will compare late-maturing (Charolais and Limousin) with early-maturing (Angus) sired bulls and steers.
The trial will also compare the performance of animals produced from sires with high and low Replacement Indexes.
The herd managers intend to slaughter the bulls at 16 months, the heifers at 18 (early maturing) and 20 months (late maturing), and the steers from early and late-maturing sires, at 22 and 24 months respectively.
Because of poor grass growth in early 2013, profitability for the 70ha unit was well back last year. The bulls had a longer than planned store period, which limited them to an indoor finishing period on ad lib meals.
At 18 months of age, the average carcass weight of 358kg for these animals was approximately 42kg less than expected, and more meal was fed than originally planned. The gross margin for the Derrypatrick Herd in 2013 was €64,299, or €919/ha.