Star cows shine in the cash returns

Damien McGrath (centre), Tuam IFA Branch, pictured receiving his Certificate for the IFA Young Leaders Programme delivered by Farm Business Skillnet with James Kelly, IFA Director of Organisation and James Murphy, Farm Business Skillnet, Chairman/IFA South Leinster Chairman.
Damien McGrath (centre), Tuam IFA Branch, pictured receiving his Certificate for the IFA Young Leaders Programme delivered by Farm Business Skillnet with James Kelly, IFA Director of Organisation and James Murphy, Farm Business Skillnet, Chairman/IFA South Leinster Chairman.

THE economic benefit of using a five-star replacement index cow – as against a one star animal – can be as much as €172 per calving event, according to the 2015 Teagasc Annual Report.

Noirín McHugh, a geneticist with Teagasc, also described the ‘ideal suckler cow’ as one that required low labour input, efficiently produced a good quality weanling and went back in-calf on a yearly cycle.

Teagasc Director, Gerry Boyle, in the Annual Report, said that all of the advice they provided for beef farmers was based on providing the best possible economic outcome in a sustainable way.

“The financial results from the top one third of farmers that complete eProfit Monitors, and the Teagasc demonstration farms, clearly shows that achieving a gross margin of €1,000 per hectare is achievable,” said Prof. Boyle.

Teagasc Grange Researcher, Mervyn Parr, said that only 23% of beef calves in Ireland were born to an AI sire, despite the obvious benefits of such a move.

“It is well acknowledged that AI allows access to genetically proven sires for terminal, maternal, and easy of calving traits, thereby facilitating greater genetic progress and ease of management,” said Mervyn Parr.

Teagasc also point out that under the BETTER Beef Farm programme, some farmers have doubled their output since 2012 mainly through a combination of increasing cow numbers and an increased number of calves per cow.

In the case of one suckler cow farmer, Teagasc have made the following observation in relation to the breeding of replacement heifers:

“Homebred replacement heifers have significantly higher replacement index values than the average of the herd, and by following this policy over the coming years, the average index of the herd is expected to rise considerably.”

Teagasc are also involved in a ‘Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme’ demonstrating the profitability of a dairy calf to beef system on a whole farm basis.

The future benefits of the sheep demonstration flock in Athenry were also outlined in the report by Prof. Gerry Boyle.

“I am really looking forward to seeing the results of the research which has commenced with the high genetic sheep imported from New Zealand which we will use to benchmark against the best sheep in Irish flocks,” said Prof. Boyle.