Tesco UK under fire for preferring Irish beef
The UK's National Beef Association (NBA) has criticised Tesco for preferring Irish to British beef over the Christmas period.

The NBA quizzed Tesco over the lack of British beef available on its shelves over the festive period.

The farming organisation said Tesco’s response was that the retailer is “constantly reviewing product quality on the beef that is purchased and we have found at this moment we are finding the beef from Ireland to be of a better quality”.

‘Shameful’

Chris Mallon, chief executive of the NBA, slammed Tesco’s comments by saying: “It is shameful for Tesco to blame the quality of British product for its absence on Tesco shelves. The real reason is their buying policy which prioritises ‘cheapest first’. It shows a complete disregard for Tesco’s UK suppliers to put out statements falsely informing consumers that British product is inferior, instead of admitting that they source on price.”

As highlighted by the NBA, Irish beef was cheaper in mid-November, when supermarkets were sourcing meat for the festive season. The British average price was 378.9p/kg whilst the Republic’s price converted to 333.7p/kg.

Bord Bia’s beef sector manager Mark Zieg told the recent meat marketing seminar that the growing British acceptance for Irish beef was helping exports and “this is something we want to build upon”. Zieg showed a picture of a large billboard in a UK supermarket advertising British and Irish beef as one to illustrate his point.

Watch an interview with Mark Zieg in our video below:

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Suckler herds in BDGP making higher genetic gains
The ICBF has issued progress reports for herds over the last five years with BDGP herds making higher genetic gains than those outside the programme.

Suckler herds participating in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) are experiencing higher rates of genetic gain than non-BDGP herds, according to the latest figures.

Analysis of herd data from the last five years by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) has given an early picture of the effects the BDGP has on the national herd, since it was launched in 2015.

Across six key performance indicators (KPIs) - cow replacement index, first-calver replacement index, average calving interval, calves per cow per year, heifers calved between 22 and 26 months and six-week calving rate - BDGP herds have an equal or higher rate of genetic gain in all but one (Figure 1).

Gains

The ICBF expects further gains to be made in calving interval and calves per cow per year as replacement heifers bred since the beginning of the programme begin to enter the national herd.

Herd size was an area where reports tracking herd progress over five years showed a significant difference.

BDGP herds had an average of 26 cows in 2018, an increase of two since 2014. Non-BDGP herds decreased over the same period with the average herd falling by one to 16 cows (Table 1).

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Watch: 'Jersey genetics not as bad for finishing as people perceive' – Teagasc
William Conlon is reporting live from the Teagasc dairy calf-to-beef open day in Johnstown Castle. He spoke to Alan Twomey from Teagasc about Jersey genetics and the role they play in finishing.

Increasing genetic gain in the national dairy herd for milk production and fertility, as well as a move towards smaller-type cows has led to a constant decline in the beef merit of the Irish dairy herd over the past 10 years.

The annual decrease in genetic merit for carcase weight in Holstein Friesian dams is 0.2kg on average, which equates to a 4kg reduction in carcase weight for a 24-month steer at farm level.

Teagasc recently looked at national carcase data, which shows that as the Jersey proportion of cows increase, the slaughter performance of their resulting beef progeny decreases. Cows of different Jersey proportions in their genetics were compared to purebred Holstein Friesian cows when mated to an Angus bull.

Results

The main difference between the different cow types was the carcase weight and age at slaughter while conformation and fat score were relatively similar regardless of dam type. However, the difference in carcase value was only €53 for Angus progeny from first-cross dams (50% Jersey) compared with Angus progeny from purebred Holstein Friesian dams.

Teagasc concluded from the research that genetic potential still exists for high-value dairy beef progeny irrespective of dam breed.

In pictures: final day of cattle competitions at Balmoral
The cattle competitions came to a close on Saturday at Balmoral Show with the pairs and team of five classes on show.

The final day of cattle competition for beef cattle was held on Saturday afternoon at Balmoral Show with exhibitors vying for glory in the beef pairs and team of five classes.

The Campell family, Carnlough, Co Antrim, claimed the top placing in the beef pairs class with two Limousin animals from their Spage herd.

Runner-up was awarded to the Brigadoon Charolais herd, one of two team entries forwarded by the Connolly family, Ballynahinch, Co Down, with the Maginn family, Downpatrick, Co Down taking third place with their Salers cattle.

Beef Shorthorn won the team of five for the native breeds, with Irish Moiled cattle placed second. The Limousin entry won the team of five award for continental beef cattle with Salers runner-up.

Brigadoon Charolais competed in the beef pairs.

The second-placed pairs team from Brogadoon Charolais.

The champion team of pairs from the Campbell family.

Irish Moiled cattle.

Brigadoon Charolais placed second in the line-up in the beef pairs class.

Cattle under the judge's eye.

The second pairs entry from Brigadoon Charolais.

The third-placed pairs team from the Maginn family, Co Down.

The Simmental entry for the team of five.

The Irish Moiled cattle were runners-up in the native beef breed team of five.

Beef Shorthorn clinched the team of five for native beef breeds.

The Limousin team of five won the continental class.

The Limousin team.

The Salers team of five.

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