Commercial cattle at Gurteen
The Commercial Cattle Society held a well attended event at Gurteen Agricultural College on the Tipperary/Offaly border last week.
It consisted of a display of 13 beef breeds, a stock judging competition plus a seminar which was addressed by Minister Simon Coveney, a former student at Gurteen.
Some of the day's highlights were:
* Simon Coveney's confident prediction of an early reopening of several more markets for Irish beef, especially Japan and the Middle East;
* The weight for age and shapeliness of the progeny in Gurteen's own suckler herd. Charolais bull calves from the Limousin cross Holstein cows sourced from the Gurteen dairy herd were closing in on 600kg at 12 months of age with only minor meal inputs. The Gurteen staff are using ICBF indexes when selecting their bull;
* Joe Burke from Bord Bia telling the seminar that while there is currently seasonal pressure on the beef price, the market outlook remains strong. In particular, he pinpointed the British and German markets where consumption is strong and home production is falling. The Bord Bia man stressed that across Europe demand from supermarket is converging towards carcass weights of 260-380kg and that Ireland's advantage lay in steer and heifers;
* Smaller breed societies are developing niche outlets for their cattle which is playing to their strengths. Two specialist feedlots are now offering €1,100 a head for 380kg pure Piedmontese bull weanlings. This beef in turn is heading to specialist customers in Ireland and Scotland. Aubrac breeders have similar arrangements with live shippers. Staying with a closed purebred herd has the attraction of keeping its own replacements;
* The Hereford and Angus schemes continue to flourish with demand running ahead of supply.