Herefords once again have proven they are the sustainable and natural choice when it comes to finishing cattle off grass and eliminating extra costs incurred over the second Winter period – as revealed in the Irish Farmers Journal released their annual THRIVE demo farm research results last week.
The Irish Farmers Journal Thrive – Dairy Calf to beef Programme aims to demonstrate best practice for producing dairy calf to beef calves through the use of higher genetic merit AI sired beef calves along with focusing on a high level of efficiency in on farm nutrition and animal health.
The demonstration farm is located in Cashel, Co. Tipperary, with 140 calves reared each year and being brought to slaughter between the ages of 18 to 21 months. The target for heifers is to slaughter at 275kg and at 19 months of age and the target for bullocks is to slaughter at 300kgs, at 19 months of ages also. The core aim on the farm is to slaughter as many of the 140 cattle as possible at the end of the second summer grazing period to avoid extra winter feeding costs.
There are four breeds in the trial; Hereford, Angus, Limousin & Belgian Blue. All cattle are sired by high beef value dairy beef index bulls and sourced from known herds in order to determine the genetic potential of these cattle when reared at a high level of efficiency.
This year, 97% of Hereford Heifers were slaughtered off grass which is above the number of other breeds of heifers on the farm but also up on last year when 80% of Hereford heifers were slaughtered off grass.
62% of Hereford Bullocks were slaughtered off grass ahead of the second Winter also this year where the similar figure of 64% of Hereford bullocks finished off grass last year but also again more than any other breed on the farm.
With a similar result last year – it is more obvious than ever that Herefords are ideal for the low input- early finishing calf-to-beef system that allows for animals to be slaughtered at a younger age, which is sustainable for the environment and will be very important in reducing carbon emissions from Agriculture in the future – especially if the average age of prime animals is to be reduced nationally from 27 to 24 months by 2030. This system is also economically positive for farmers and makes financial sense in a time when input costs are continuously rising.
The THRIVE demo farm have found that to ensure this type of farming system works for farmers there are three key points to focus on; buy calves of known genetics, buy early Spring born calves and focus on grass management on the farm.
The proof is in the pudding that Herefords are the sustainable choice and make economic sense in terms of eliminating extra costs endured over a second Winter housing period in a calf-to-beef system!
***All findings in this report are copied form the Irish Farmers Journal Newspaper, Article on page 44, dated 27th November 2021***