'We need to think a about what exactly we want from the suckler herd'
Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30
A lot of progress has been made by suckler farmers and finishers, yet a lot more needs to be done for the sector to deliver a decent living for family farmers.
Michael Guinan says that lighter the carcase weights being sought by processors will not deliver a good return for finishers.
"I know they are trying to get animals finished at the lighter weights to suit the particular market, but the steers that are being killed at 22 months of age are only coming in to €1,100-€1,200 in return for the finisher.
"That is no good because it is not going to give a living to any beef finisher. A good Charolais or Limousin bullock at the same age can come into €1,700-€1,800," says Michael.
He pointed out that in the Derrypatrick Herd progeny coming off at eight to nine months were valued at an average of €758/hd.
"What good is that to any suckler farmer with the cost of maintaining the suckler cow being put at €700.
"They counteracted the point I was making to them by saying that the money was going to be made out of finishing, but the breeder is not necessarily the finisher - he is a specialist suckler producer that is not geared for finishing - and he can't get a living from that level of return at less than €3,000 for a 50 cow suckler herd.
Even at €600 to keep the cow he is only getting an income of €150/week out of it.