Beef: Give me our homegrown beef over American pie any day
I recently travelled with the Irish delegation to the Alltech ONE Ideas conference in Kentucky where we visited some very interesting dairy and beef farms.
Since my previous visit to America in 2012 a number of changing factors have had a significant effect on the beef industry.
The lowering of grain and soya bean prices have brought these feeds back in vogue as opposed to four years ago when the main feed focus was on the by-products from ethanol and distillery production.
Back in 2012, male calves from the dairy industry were very much viewed as an unwanted/nuisance end to a dairy cow's pregnancy. Since then, the American suckler herd has contracted significantly (by 10 million cows) resulting in greater demand for male calves from the dairy herd.
Production systems based upon moderate calf prices, excellent rearing, early castration, liberal hormone use and high cereal feed inputs result in a very acceptable end product for both the feedlot farmer and the beef packing industry. These steers are finished at 15-18 months of age producing a 325kg carcase.
They don't carry any of the marbling or quality characteristics of their Angus and Hereford bred feedlot compatriots, with factories paying on a meat eating quality basis. However, they are an ideal source of beef for the huge ground/mince beef market in the US.
While it was great to sample the extremely tender American steak and burgers it's still hard to beat our flavoursome and healthy beef here in Ireland.
The conference was attended by over 3,000 delegates from 72 countries and was a demonstration of Alltech's high standing throughout the agricultural world. The amazingly high calibre of the contributors was also to the fore.