The FBD National Livestock Show will have a sustainability village at the 2023 event for the first time in the history of the show.
The idea for the village came about in 2022 when Tullamore Show’s Michael Dolan contacted a number of stakeholders to gauge their appetite for building the village at the show.
The village will highlight some of the work that is already taking place on farms in relation to climate change.
The village will position farmers playing a central role in delivering Ireland’s climate change objectives.
It will highlight some of the practical steps that the finalists have made on their farms with climate change in mind.
It will also provide practical support and guidance to help farmers identify actions that can boost both the environmental and financial performance on their farm.
A live demo will take place on how genetics can play its role in climate change and how farmers can harness the power of genetics to improve both profitability and lower GHG emissions of the animals that they produce.
The Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue will officially open the sustainable livestock village at 10.30am and will also present the awards to the winners at 1.30pm in the commercial cattle ring.
We spoke to each of the village participants to check out what people will see at their stands in the village at the show:
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
The Department of Agriculture will be in the village highlighting programmes such as the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme, the Dairy Beef Welfare Scheme and ACRES, which are now in place to support livestock farmers in their adoption of practical climate measures while delivering direct income support of almost €2bn.
Seven in 10 international buyers actively seek strong sustainability credentials from their suppliers with the topic increasingly influencing their purchasing decisions.
Ireland has a strong reputation for supplying high-quality, sustainable beef and lamb, underpinned by programmes such as the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme. Maintaining this reputation requires the ongoing demonstration of our sustainability credentials in order to secure the best possible market returns for Irish farmers.
Teagasc has identified ‘12 Steps to Reduce Gaseous Emissions’ on livestock farms. These practical measures can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also improving farm financial performance. For example, calving a heifer at 24 months versus 36 months reduces emissions by 8%, increasing profit by €120/cow.
The commercial beef value provides farmers with genetic certainty regarding the beef potential of different animals. Five-star steers are more efficient and produce less methane than one-star animals. This can reduce feed costs by €1.15 per day and deliver a €140 higher carcase value.
Dairy Industry Ireland and Meat Industry Ireland
Processors are increasingly delivering incentivised sustainability programmes to encourage the adoption of sustainability practices at farm level.
Incentivised programmes currently cover 70% of milk supply, while €150m has been invested by Meat Industry Ireland members since 2015.
The beef and dairy sectors are rolling out a number of joint dairy beef programmes to support knowledge transfer, best practice implementation and provide market certainty.
In addition, they are actively supporting the rollout of the national genotyping programme to provide the genetic certainty to guide future breeding strategies for milk and beef production.
Animal Health Ireland
Healthy animals are more sustainable – they lead to lower vet/medicine bills, thrive better and reduce methane emissions.
Animal health can deliver 7% of the required reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from livestock.
Animal health gains are cost beneficial, delivering a return of €46/t of emissions mitigated.
The finalists in the sustainable farming awards were all visited in the last number of months with the judges being Christy Watson on behalf of Teagasc, Michael Maloney on behalf of Bord Bia and myself.
The farms were all pre-selected as part of their carbon footprint measurement completed under their Bord Bia sustainable beef and sheep quality assurance audit.
Farms were judged across a number of different criteria including measures to reduce carbon footprint, livestock performance, forage and feed management, biodiversity and space for nature, measures to enhance water quality and water conservation, quality assurance and market awareness and local community participation and knowledge transfer activities.