We need to shout about grass-fed Irish beef
Published 20/09/2011 | 05:00
As we head into the second half of September, this year's record-breaking growth is coming to an end and nature's amazing benevolence has left us with a welcome legacy of increased output in most sectors.
In my own case, while it is still far too early to give exact figures, the sales returns so far this autumn, combined with a marked improvement in the appearance of the remainder of my stock, would indicate an average rise of 10-12kg in carcass weight over last year along with an improvement in grades.
I must however urge a word of caution, because what these figures show is that last year's returns were the exception. The current carcass weights are actually very similar to my 2007-2009 figures.
I tend to forget that the stock I buy-in are generally middle of the road Friesian crosses. Despite the rapid increase in value of these so-called by-products of our dairy sector, I have to accept that unless there is a switch over to British Friesian cows, too high a percentage of them will continue to grade P.
It can be difficult sometimes to understand why cattle which look good enough to grade O, will only grade P, and vice versa. All I can say is that I hope that these apparent anomalies, whether real or imaginary, balance one another out.
The start of my farming year is usually mid-August, as this is the time when I buy-in my first store cattle.
This year is turning out to be a particularly difficult one for buying stores and I must say that at the moment I feel somewhat nervous about giving over €700 for Friesian crosses with absolutely no guarantees as to what the future may hold.
However, I take my hat off to the bravery of many of my fellow farmers whom I see giving nearly €1,000 for nice beef-breed store cattle of around the same weight.