Why young bull beef finishing system is delivering big results for farmers
Spring-born bulls from 2016 that are finished under 16 months of age are currently in peak supply to the meat plants and appear to be met by a good demand.
Bull beef finishing has undergone a rollercoaster ride in the 20 years since it became a prominent part of our beef production systems.
The under-16 month system, in particular, has had its fair share of detractors.
The perception that it would be impossible to achieve appropriate fat scores and sufficient carcass weights at such a young age was widespread.
At two extremes, the top E and U grade, continental bred cattle and the black and white dairy bull were particularly viewed as being impossible to meet the required market specs.
While the 'industry' has been telling farmers that the demand for bull beef from Ireland is limited, farmers have had to focus on the profitability of their enterprises and on a lot of beef farms under 16 month bull production is topping the profitability charts.
In 2016 nearly 200,000 young bulls were slaughtered in Ireland, accounting for approximately 20pc of finished male cattle.
Anyone that regularly reads Robin Talbot's pieces on these pages will learn that a carcass weight of 400kg+ and fat scores of 2+/3s are attainable, even where Belgian Blue predominates in the breed mix.