The first of the 2021-born progeny were drafted for slaughter on Newford Farm, with 20 heifers slaughtered on 4 August.

The heifers with an average date of birth of 17 February 2021 (17.5 months of age) weighed 567kg on average and recorded an average carcase weight of 290kg (51% kill-out).

Carcase weights ranged from 272kg to 328kg, with heifers drafted on a combination of fat score and liveweight.

The average price per kilo was €5.10/kg, while the sale value was €1,474/head.

The average grade was R-3=, with 17 heifers grading R and three O grades.

The base price on the day was €4.90/kg, with all heifers satisfying quality payment system (QPS) requirements and receiving the 20c/kg bonus payment.

Two of the R grading heifers delivered R+ grading carcases and received an additional 6c/kg bonus, while the three heifers which graded O+3- were deducted 12c/kg (€4.98/kg).

Priority treatment

The 2021 batch of heifers received priority treatment since weaning as part of the farm’s target to try to draft heifers off grass at 16 months of age.

Heifers were deemed unsuitable for slaughter by the Dawn Meats procurement team due to a combination of inadequate fat scores and carcase weights at the end of June and, as such, the drafting date was pushed out.

The heifers were prioritised to retain outdoors last autumn and were housed on 7 December at an average weight of 379kg. They were again prioritised for early turn-out, with a housing period of just 44 days.

The average weight of heifers at turn-out on 20 January 2022 was recorded at 411kg. Analysis completed by Teagasc's Michael Fagan shows the lifetime consumption of concentrates at 251kg, costing €90/head.

Michael says the remaining 17 heifers on the farm are weighing 540kg on average, with weights ranging from 490kg to 590kg.

Heavier heifers in the group were delayed from drafting due to an inadequate fat cover. The aim is to draft the remaining 17 heifers for slaughter before the end of August without any concentrate feeding.