Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 22 July 2017

Veal trials to deal with extra 350,000 calves from dairy herd

Speakers James Fleming, Teagasc Newcastlewest; John Horgan, Teagasc Midleton; Dr Siobhan Kavanagh, Teagasc Kildalton; and Paul Nolan, Dawn Meats, take part in Teagasc's winter cattle seminar in Mallow, Co Cork
Speakers James Fleming, Teagasc Newcastlewest; John Horgan, Teagasc Midleton; Dr Siobhan Kavanagh, Teagasc Kildalton; and Paul Nolan, Dawn Meats, take part in Teagasc's winter cattle seminar in Mallow, Co Cork
Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Trial results from the first batch of calves reared in a Johnstown Castle veal trial will be published next week at the Teagasc/Dawn Meats dairy calf-to-beef conference.

With the possibility of 350,000 bull calves being produced from an expanded dairy cow herd of 1.6-1.7m cows in the coming years, the trial results will give some indication of the best methods of producing dairy beef in the future.

The first batch of calves have already been slaughtered at eight months of age, and it is understood that the batch on grass and concentrate feed out-performed those on concentrate only, and were significantly better than those on grass only.

Around 300 calves have been entered into the trial on 10 different production systems, with varying feeding regimes.

The aim of the trial is to examine ways in which Irish farmers can exploit the high-priced veal market in Europe.

The European market consists of 650,000t of veal produced from milk-fed, iron-deficient calves that produce a very white meat worth roughly twice the price of adult steers in Ireland.

However, the aim of the Teagasc/Dawn Meats project is to produce eight-month-old calves for veal that are fed grass and/or concentrate. This production system would have a better animal welfare image, albeit at a lower price.

"We would hope to get this meat in at the manufacturing end of the European veal market," said Teagasc's dairy research head, Padraig French.


"If we could develop a dairy beef production system at home in Ireland, we could add €120m to the economy," he added.

Dawn Meats' Paul Nolan, speaking to farmers at the Teagasc cattle seminar in Mallow, Co Cork, on Thursday night, maintained that there was a big opportunity for some farmers to become specialised calf rearers.

"Dairy farmers just want to get the bull calves off the farm but finishers don't want them until they are a few months old, he said. "There is an opportunity there for some beef farmers to specialise in rearing calves from a few days old to maybe 12 weeks old."

Irish Independent