DEAR SIR: It is disappointing to see the outgoing head of Teagasc continue the negative view on the suckler cow herd. Teagasc cannot seriously reminisce on how the beef herd was before the introduction of milk quotas.
The head of Teagasc said that 80% of beef cattle came from the dairy herd, but obviously that changed when milk quotas were introduced. The suckler herd grew in a big way.
By all accounts, if a current suckler cow enterprise wants to add on a dairy-calf-to-beef enterprise where suitable, that has to be encouraged, but you cannot have a dairy-calf-to-beef system replacing the suckler herd.
A lot of work went into establishing the suckler herd that we have today – years of research on cow genetics improvement, traceability and grass-fed.
There has to be a positive way to promote the suckler herd. Every farm is different, suckler cows do have a place on farms.
The head of Teagasc did acknowledge that part-time farming kept the suckler herd going, and that surprised Teagasc.
He also acknowledged that dairy bull calves will have to be reared in Ireland rather than exported. I think the positive parts to the suckler herd have to be promoted.
The powers that be should have factored all this in when planning for the end of milk quotas.