Stand 1: Key performance indicators for suckler-calf-to-weanling production
Teagasc researchers and beef specialists will outline what the key profitability drivers are for suckler beef production in the country. This stand will firstly outline the three key variables which support a profitable suckler system, which are grass utilisation, stocking rate and individual animal performance.
The team will then explain the measures used to quantify levels of efficiency on suckler beef farms. These measures are known as key performance indicators (KPIs) and Teagasc has identified five indicators essential for farmers benchmarking their own operations. These performance indicators are broken into two groups – reproductive measures and productive measures – and will be further explained on the day.
The research on these five KPIs carried out by Teagasc is extremely relevant for suckler farmers as it allows a monetary value, in the form of extra euro net margin per cow, to be placed on efficiency gains made in both reproductive and productive areas.
The study compared high performance commercial farms with the national average farms and found that management to achieve certain key performance targets can substantially improve profitability on the average suckler farm in Ireland. Finally, the research emphasises this conclusion by outlining the main practices that all suckler farmers can firstly identify and subsequently act upon in order to improve the net margin within their own farm gates.
Key Performance Indicators for dairy calf to beef systems
Stand 2: Key performance indicators for dairy calf-to-beef systems
Teagasc researchers have been working towards defining a set of KPIs by which efficiencies within dairy calf-to-beef systems can be identified and quantified. A look into dairy-calf-to-beef systems revealed that male Holstein-Friesian and early maturing Angus and Hereford dairy-cross calves represent 85% of the calves available from the dairy herd for beef production. This stand will explain that, although dairy calf-to-beef systems have the potential to be profitable, key targets must be achieved to ensure high levels of animal performance throughout the production cycle and in turn, return high profitability.
The team of researchers will present four key performance areas for successful dairy beef production. The first is calf rearing, and the correct nutritional, health and environmental factors will be discussed to help farmers maximise weight gain and minimise losses in this crucial period of a calf’s life. Next is performance during the first grazing season where grazing management right through to parasite treatment will be discussed. The first indoor winter is also a key performance period, and the optimum silage and concentrate feeding levels will be detailed. The second grazing season and subsequent finishing period will be the final key period outlined, which includes dietary and weight-gain factors.
The Teagasc team will explain that when each of the KPIs are achieved, farm profit can be maximised. Another key message will be that dairy calf-to-beef is not limited to just one system.
Genetics create the potential; management realises that potential
Stand 3: Genetics create the potential; management realises that potential
In simple terms, this stand focuses on the idea that the performance of an animal is a function of the previous generations of breeding of that animal as well as the management to which the individual and its dam has been exposed. Teagasc’s Aidan Murray and Donagh Berry will present their findings on how genetics and management combine to play a critical role in the performance of an animal. Genetics can contribute to many performance traits, the main being carcase weights and carcase grades, but they also contribute to factors such as calving interval and farm replacement rates.
This stand will answer many farmers’ questions in relation to genetics within their own herds and how to understand the €uro-Star system properly.
Farmers will be guided through problems such as star indexes moving and the difference between terminal and maternal traits of sires and stock.
This stand, however, will also assert that full performance efficiency cannot be achieved by genetics alone. Currently, many of the key reproduction efficiency targets are not being met at farm level and the researchers will outline how better planning and management practices could greatly improve this situation and unlock more of the genetic potential within a herd.
Factors such as age at calving and calving spread will be looked at, as well as the significant benefits that AI can bring to a farmer at moderate extra cost.
Capturing the potential of grazed grass on Irish beef farms
Stand 4: Capturing the potential of grazed grass on Irish beef farms
In Ireland, profitable beef production is based on the provision of sufficient quantities of high-quality pasture to produce quality beef at a minimum cost. Teagasc has found that every extra tonne of grass DM/ha utilised on the farm is worth €105/ha. Furthermore, every additional day at grass in the spring can save up to €1.54/animal in feed costs. Thinking about these figures, it is a no-brainer that every farmer should look to maximise the growth and utilisation of grass on their farm.
This stand outlines how farmers can do just that. The Teagasc team of Michael Egan and Karen Dukelow have researched the key grassland management areas that farmers should focus on. Broken up into two parts, the first section deals with improving soil fertility on Irish beef farms. The correct soil index levels of phosphorous, potassium and lime are essential to soil fertility and this research outlines how each nutrient can be developed within the soil. Grazing management is the second part and the presentation will discuss right and wrong management practices in the spring, mid-season and autumn. There are many tools farmers can use to aid grazing management, such as a spring rotation planner, a grass wedge generated through grass measuring and an autumn 60:40 planner. Clover will also be touched upon, and the successful incorporation of clover into a sward will be outlined. Managing a farm to produce more grass requires attention to detail and good grazing management – this stand can help farmers learn the skills and information necessary to do so.