Opinion: Why suckler farmers should explore organic opportunities?
My exposure to organic beef and lamb production has increased exponentially in recent years.
Not so long ago I would have been hardpressed to identify many commercial organic beef producers. Nowadays, I am working with an increasing number of committed organic beef producers that are running profitable farming enterprises.
In the past, I have somewhat dismissed organic beef production systems. In a lot of cases, grassland management, forage quality, poor daily liveweight gains and the high cost of concentrate supplementation made it difficult to operate an efficient and profitable enterprise.
However, what I have witnessed in recent years is that organic beef production has moved on to a new level.
A number of organic producers are now implementing grassland management practices that match those of the top conventional beef farms.
Early grazing techniques are common, with cattle achieving up to 1.25kg/ day until mid-summer.
This improvement in grassland management has also had the knock-on effect of improving winter forage quality.
In an organic beef finishing system, concentrate input costs can be up to 100pc higher than those of a conventional beef finishing system. Where a conventional beef finishing blend can be purchased at approximately €240/ tonne this winter, an organic beef finishing blend is costing approximately €450/ tonne.