Farm Ireland

Thursday 26 April 2018

The new beef breed that brought profit back to this farmer

Catherine Hurley

Catherine Hurley

A change of breed has transformed lifestyle, performance and profit for suckler beef farmer Sean Hayden.

Sean (51) introduced a Stabiliser bull to his herd in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since. The farmer from Urlingford, Thurles now has 30 pure Stabiliser cows and 57 commercial cows including cross Stabiliser cows.

Farming a total of 107 hectares, he also produces haylage as a separate enterprise.

Sean’s aim is to upgrade to a pure Stabiliser herd in the coming years. “Even if they didn’t make a penny more, they’re a lot quieter” said Sean who farms at home with his wife and children.

The Stabiliser farmer has reduced his calving interval to 363 days from the national average of 400. Their mortality is now 1.8pc compared to the national average of 4.8pc. All heifers are calved down between 22-24 months.

Today Sean has no trouble with calving and is compacting the calving season down to nine weeks. This has reduced vet bills and labour time dramatically on the farm.

Profit Monitoring

Sean credits the Stabilisers to his net profit of €475/ha before single farm payment schemes are added.

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“Before we changed to stabilisers we were making no profit and using some of the single farm payment to run the farm”.

From the bulls that were slaughtered this year they all made U grades. Average age of the bulls were 13.8 months, weighing 341kg on average and making €3.49c/kg on the day.

What are Stabilisers?

The Stabiliser breed is a multi-breed composite developed by Leachman Cattle Company. The breed is based on research done by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) at its Animal Research Service (ARS) at the Meat Animal Research Center (MARC), at Clay Center, Nebraska.

Richmond Fuller introduced the breed to the UK in 1997 when he bought 100 embryos from Leachman and set up the Stabiliser Cattle Company (SCC).

Since then, Stabilisers have been growing in popularity with over 10,000 breeding females recognised by the SCC and are now gaining popularity in Ireland.

The Stabiliser breed is a blend of British and Continental inputs including: Hereford, Red Angus, Simmental, Gelbvieh.

Gelbvieh cattle originated in Bavaria, South Germany. The cows are smaller and are bred for fertility, longevity and milk yield. Today, they’re primarily used in beef production.

The Stabiliser combines the fleshing ability, marbling, and moderate size of the British breeds with the muscle, milk, and growth of the Continental breeds.

As a four-breed composite, the Stabiliser retains 75pc of the F1 hybrid vigor and thus allows producers to crossbreed with simplicity.

The Stabiliser Cattle Company maintains that the “Stabiliser’s are bringing profit back into beef farming”.

The focus of the breeding programme is to improve the economic efficiency of suckler cows and the production of consistently high eating quality beef from forage-based systems.

The breeding programme are selecting animals based on several traits including their Net Feed Efficiency (NFE). Feed accounts of 70pc of variable costs through live weight gain, in growing animas and maintenance in cows.

Selection for better NFE will improve feed to gain ratio by 10-15pc“Stabilisers, bringing profit back into beef farming” and it will achieve a savings of up to €110 per cow/calf unit per year and in turn reduce methane production from Stabiliser beef production by 20-30pc.

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