In the second of our Spring Livestock Series, we concentrate on dairy calf to beef production.

With more and more beef coming from the dairy herd each year, it’s becoming an increasingly popular topic of conversation and there's a huge debate on whether or not it’s something farmers should be considering.

This evening we will focus on the use of beef genetics on the dairy herd, and there will be discussion on the challenges faced in ensuring a viable dairy beef calf industry in Ireland.

Irish Farmers Journal editor and CEO Justin McCarthy will moderate the discussion tonight and our panel of experts will discuss a number of items listed below in relation to dairy calf to beef production.

Dairy beef: is there potential in it?

Dairy beef is being put forward by some as a viable alternative to suckling. Aidan Brennan and Adam Woods will discuss the genetics that are currently being used on the dairy herd and what needs to change. They will take a look at some industry stats, issues that need to change in the industry and whether it’s something farmers should be considering.

Calf price: what price can I afford to pay for calves?

2021 calf sales have started off very strong with calves up €50 on last year’s prices. While prices have eased up a little in recent days, it’s important for farmers embarking on a diary calf to beef system to do the budgets on calf price. We will take a look at the calf price market, as well an outlook on export numbers this spring and the knock-on effect this will have on beef price.

THRIVE Programme results: profit and performance

There will be an update from the THRIVE dairy calf to beef programme, including production and slaughter performance and system economics for 2020 slaughtered cattle. The THRVE programme is working with Aberdeen Angus, Hereford, Limousin and Belgium Blue breeds. Declan Marren will outline the performance of each breed on the programme including the economics of different finishing systems.

Top five calf-rearing tips

Finally, there will be some top tips for farmers considering a dairy calf to beef enterprise on their farm this year in terms of housing, health and nutrition. Getting the calf rearing stage is extremely important in setting up the animal for a lifetime of high daily liveweight gains. Declan Marren and Darren Carty will outline some of the lessons learned from rearing calves in the THRIVE programme.


It will wrap up with a panel discussion which will include live questions from the virtual audience with panel members; Aidan Brennan, IFJ; Declan Marren, IFJ; Darren Carty IFJ, Adam Woods, IFJ; and Joe Burke, Bord Bia.

If anybody has questions they want answered they can email them to or text/WhatsApp 086-836 6465. Questions can also be submitted live during the show via email and WhatsApp.