Watch: get set to Thrive with new dairy calf to beef programme
The Irish Farmers Journal and a number of key industry stakeholders launched a new dairy calf to beef programme this week. Beef editor Adam Woods has all the details.

The Irish Farmers Journal's new dairy calf to beef programme, Thrive, is aimed at increasing profit and technical efficiency.

The programme is being undertaken with the support of Bord Bia, ICBF, Kerry Agri, Aurivo, Dovea Genetics, Progressive Genetics and Munster AI.

Livestock specialist William Conlon will work with eight to 10 dairy calf to beef farmers over the next four years.

At the moment suitable calves are being identified and moved to demonstration farms.

Twelve bulls have been chosen. All have easy-calving characteristics coupled with short gestation along with good carcase weight and conformation traits. Calves will be brought through to slaughter on the demo farms and there will be regular updates on animal performance in the Irish Farmers Journal and at farmersjournal.ie.

A pilot phase of the project was initiated by the Irish Farmers Journal in 2018 with the purchase of 102 calves which were contract-reared on the farm of John Hally just outside Cashel in Co Tipperary.

These calves were male and female, Hereford, Aberdeen Angus, Limousin and Belgian Blue. They were sired by seven different sires. All physical and financial data on these calves has been collected and will be featured in the Irish Farmers Journal in the coming weeks.

Irish Farmers Journal editor Justin McCarthy said: “We are delighted to launch the Thrive programme. We see it as a very important initiative for farmers in dairy calf to beef production systems and dairy farmers looking to use better beef genetics in their herds.

“I would like to acknowledge and thank our partners and look forward to working with them over the next four years. Thrive will dovetail with our other technical programmes as part of an expanding delivery of unique content for both our paper readers and digital subscribers.”

The programme will demonstrate best practice in a number of key areas:

  • Improved sire selection (focus on beef).
  • Management of calves prior to sale.
  • Calf-rearing principles, with an emphasis on animal welfare.
  • Financial budgets (cashflow is challenging in dairy calf to beef systems).
  • Feed management – grassland and supplements.
  • Meet the market needs (how to meet spec).
  • At the moment, programme participants are being finalised and calves are being sourced to move on to the demo farms. Programme coverage will begin in next week's Irish Farmers Journal.

    Mercosur deal would shatter EU climate change credentials - ICMSA
    ICMSA's Pat McCormack has called for the removal of any additional access to the EU market for beef from Mercosur.

    The credibility of the European Commission as a leader in tackling climate change would be “shattered” if a trade dead is concluded with Mercosur allowing additional beef into the EU.

    That is according to Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), who said such an agreement would be a disaster for farmers and the environment.

    EU beef, specifically Irish beef, had a far superior environmental footprint than South American beef, McCormack said. In addition, European farmers were being challenged daily to further improve their footprint on the back of pressure and regulation form the EU Commission.

    Policy

    McCormack said farmers were extremely angry at the contradictions in EU policy: “On one hand, we have more regulation on an almost constant basis being imposed on EU farmers at huge financial and farm management cost and without the marketplace returning an extra cent for their efforts.

    “On the other hand, the EU now appears to be prepared to allow additional access for Mercosur beef into the EU market with absolutely no environment or climate change commitments.”

    He pointed to low-cost imports meeting much lower standards as one of the reasons food prices were at unsustainability low and unrealistic levels.

    “Is the EU prepared to sell out its farm families and global climate change for big business? As of now, the answer would appear to be ‘yes’,” McCormack stated bluntly.

    Standards

    If farmers in the EU had to meet certain standards then those same standards must be imposed on imports also, he said.

    McCormack called on the Government to vigorously oppose the Mercosur deal and seek the removal any additional access for beef from the negotiating table and build-in environment and climate change commitments for existing access.

    “They have to do that if they are to be fair to their own farmers and in the interests of the environment”, he concluded.

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    Listen: farmers' expectations from €100m beef scheme
    We continue to talk to farmers to get their reaction to the €100m fund and to see where they would like the money to go.

    John O’Leary (finisher), Gorey, Co Wexford

    I’d like to see it on all of 2018 and all of 2019, on the cattle that have been finished and slaughtered in the factories.

    It should be distributed in this particular way because the finishing man is taking the risk of buying the stores.

    Suckler and store farmers will benefit from better prices in the mart: once the finishers get the subsidy, they’ll be out buying.

    The factories are the ones holding the price back a bit.

    Even though they claim that’s the market prices, I believe our price should be a little bit more.

    The factories would cut the price as much as they can, and they’ll eventually cut it more now simply because of the extra €100m coming from the EU and the Government.

    Con Frawley (drystock and sheep), Curraghmore, Co Tipperary

    I think farmers need to get a lot more information about this money before we can comment on how good or bad it is.

    I’d like to see it going to the smaller farms this time and not into the hands of the big feedlots and finishers.

    It’s been an extremely tough winter and spring for anyone who was finishing cattle.

    I know beef prices are coming up a bit, but now lamb prices have taken an awful hit – it’s one blow after another.

    Con Frawley, Curraghmore, Co Tipperary. \ Matthew Halpin

    Additional reporting by Matthew Halpin.

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    Farmer viewpoint: how the €100m beef fund should be paid and to who
    Farmers at Nenagh mart, Ballina mart and the Teagasc dairy beef open day in Johnstown Castle outlined what they want from the Brexit beef compensation fund.

    Michael and Ornagh Darcy

    Calf to store Piercestown, Co Wexford

    “That money will go straight into the hands of the factories and the feedlots. A proportion of the cattle is in feedlots and it will be just another tool for the factories, whereas it should go to the family farms.

    “The people finishing the cattle are getting them cheaper. If we’re serious about protecting the beef industry, they have to target the family farm.”

    John Dunne at the Teagasc dairy beef open day in Johnstown Castle, Co Wexford. \ Thomas Hubert

    John Dunne

    Suckler and calf to beef Portarlington, Co Offaly

    “I think it should go directly to the finisher. The beef man was never one to hold on to money. He will bring it straight to the mart and send it back down along the line to the store or weanling producer.

    “It’s the family farm that needs the support, not the factories that own feedlots or the feedlot operator, they have cashflow. There should be a limit on the number of cattle or the amount for each farmer. Giving everybody a little amount of money is purely a vote-getting exercise.”

    John Gleeson, at Nenagh Mart.

    John Gleeson

    Suckler and drystock Puckaun, Co Tipperary

    “The money is just an election gimmick if you ask me. I’d be afraid it’s going to be like the Single Farm Payment and all the schemes that we have; 80% of the money going to 20% of the farmers.

    “It’s always the smaller farmers, like myself, who are getting the raw deal – the weak are getting weaker. I’d like to see the smaller farms given preference with this fund to give them a chance.”

    Joe Cahill, Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, at Nenagh Mart.

    Joe Cahill

    Suckler and drystock Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary

    “Personally, I’d love to see it coming as a payment per suckler cow because I think if the suckler cow isn’t supported, we will all be left rearing dairy stock in a few years.

    “Unfortunately, at the moment it looks like most of the money will end up in the hands of the big finishers. At the same time, we have to remember that a lot of the trade in the marts depends on one or two of those big buyers standing around the ring.”

    Michael Mitchell, Castlebar, Co Mayo. \ Frank Dolan.

    Michael Mitchell

    Suckler to weanling/beef Castlebar, Co Mayo

    “It should go to both finishers and to suckler farmers. Both are feeling a lot of pain since Brexit started to bite. The fairest way to pay it to cattle finishers is as a payment per kilo of beef sold since last autumn.

    “To make the pot go as far is it can, the payment should be capped either up to a weight like 380kg or 400kg or a maximum per head. Where the farmer is bringing them to slaughter, they should receive a higher payment per animal than those that buy cattle to finish.”

    John Morahan, Kilmaine, Co Mayo. \ Conor McKeown

    John Morahan

    Suckler to beef Kilmaine, Co Mayo

    “Factory feedlots should not qualify for any of the fund because of how they are used to control the market. The fund should be backdated to cover cattle slaughtered from the autumn onwards when price pressure started.

    “The fairest way to pay it is on a payment per head, with higher payments for cattle slaughtered at higher carcase weights, as these cattle are the ones hit the hardest by lower prices and tougher price cuts. It probably should be capped at a 500kg carcase.”

    Read more

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    Department to decide what farmers are eligible for €100m Brexit fund

    €100m fund distribution ‘must be fair to all producers’ in beef chain