Research to identify the main factors that influence finishing age in beef animals is being undertaken by Teagasc, in conjunction with the Irish Cattle and Breeding Federation (ICBF) and University College Dublin (UCD).

The four-year project received €780,000 in funding from the Department of Agriculture and began last December.

Weight data is being collected by the ICBF and the weight of animals will be tracked for different cohorts of animals throughout life stages. This will aid in identifying the gap between research animals and the average farm and identify drops in performances in various life stages.

Approximately 200 to 300 farmers nationwide will participate in the research over the coming months and years, from both suckler beef and dairy beef enterprises.

On-farm indicators

Key on-farm indicators for finishing will be examined, including animal nutrition, the farm environment and animal health.

There will also be a social science element to the research, which will look at farmer behaviour and barriers to the implementation of technology.

Reducing the national average age of finishing prime cattle from 26 to 22 or 23 months by 2030 is a key part of achieving Ireland's 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the sector.