A major multi-year study yields more sustainable dairy and beef farm performance
In 2015, we began a major study in conjunction with the ICBF and Teagasc on our R&D farm in County Wexford, a typical 280 acre beef farm owned, run and live-on by an experienced beef farming family.
The lifting of milk quotas saw a rapid increase in the amount of dairy beef cattle and the objective for this project was to look at ways at introducing a more all-round sustainable beef production model for the dairy herd.
Our sustainability study
The study looks at identifying more economic and sustainable beef bulls to breed superior beef calves from the dairy herd. It also involves the application of ABP’s Blade Farming model to ensure that these calves are reared as efficiently and sustainably as possible.
So far the project has involved over 3,000 calves and results have shown that improved genetics in the dairy herd does improve the overall sustainability (environmental and economic) of dairy beef production.
The latest results have demonstrated a significant shift in carbon reductions through better breeding, more efficient rearing practices and reduced age of slaughter. The findings show the potential to:
- Reduce enteric methane emissions by up to 17% within cattle breed
- Reduce enteric methane emissions by up to 28% across cattle breed
- Reduce enteric methane reductions by up to 36% across different farming systems
The results also highlight the potential for improved yields of up to €200 on animal carcass values for beef farmers. Likewise, dairy farmers will increase profitability through short gestation and easy calving, as well as minimising the number of low value dairy bred bullocks.
Efficient and sustainable
The production of beef from the dairy herd on pasture based systems is the most environmentally sustainable and economically efficient beef production system in the world.
This research has demonstrated that it can be made even more efficient by dairy farmers selecting the best bulls to produce these animals which are finished at a younger age with lower feed requirements.
As the national dairy herd in Ireland is now contributing over 60% of the beef animals the impact of dairy farmers selecting suitable beef sires has the potential to have a very significant impact on national livestock carbon emissions and improving sustainability of beef production.