Young bull beef under 16 months will be included in Bord Bia’s grass-fed standard.

Bord Bia said it had consulted with stakeholders and that young bulls would be treated with the same criteria as other animal categories.

This means that steers, heifers, young bulls and cows are all now included in the standard.

Bord Bia received tough criticism during beef protests last year, with many farmers demanding that it do more to promote Irish beef abroad.

The two main criteria of the new grass-fed standard are:

  • A minimum of 90% of an animal’s diet during their lifetime on a fresh weight basis must be grass or grass-based forages.
  • The annual average days at grass stands at 220 days, with an allowance of up to 40 days where soil type or weather may prevent longer grazing seasons.
  • In addition, animals will only qualify for the scheme if they come from farms that are members of the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS).

    Non-QA farms

    However, Bord Bia does allow that the first nine months of an animal’s life can be spent on non-quality assured (QA) farms.

    “This means that all animals including young bulls will be deemed as grass fed for this period regardless of whether they were on QA or non-QA farm(s),” Bord Bia said.

    It added that its overriding principle had been to develop a standard that did not seek any additional information from farmers above what was already being collected as part of an SBLAS audit.

    “The grass-fed label will be incorporated into Bord Bia’s promotional activities for Irish beef from the autumn onwards with the aim of differentiating Irish beef from our competitors and in doing so help maximise the returns from the marketplace to the benefit of Irish beef farmers,” Bord Bia said.

    It's expected that the grass-fed standard will be the basis of their PGI application in Europe.

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