Cow weights and weanling prices appear to be the two biggest sticking points in making progress on the ICBF beef index debacle.

ICBF is understood to have signalled that the cow weight issue, where very light cows like Dexters are rewarded for their low liveweight in the current evaluation model, can be fixed, but this must also mean that very heavy cows are also penalised in the model.

This has angered some farmers, especially continental pedigree breeders, who are operating at the higher end of the cow weight scale.

The price of weanlings was also a big talking point at the meeting, with many feeling the true value of top quality weanlings was not being factored in to the Teagasc model.

ICBF is expected to come with solutions to both issues at the next stakeholder meeting.

One issue that hasn’t been addressed is the fate of pedigree bulls, which have fallen in index value in the last evaluation run.

Some pedigree breeders have had thousands of euro wiped off the value of their breeding bulls as a result of falling out of Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) eligibility in the November 2023 evaluation run.

Timing issues

IFA livestock chair Declan Hanrahan said “there are clearly timing issues with pedigree sales in the coming weeks and it is important that clarity is provided in advance for farmers who will be buying bulls and for breeders selling them.”

One of the concerns in this regard relates to SCEP eligibility, and Hanrahan is adamant that this is an issue very much within the ability of the Minister for Agriculture and his officials to solve. The next ICBF stakeholder meeting will take place on Thursday 22 February.