Twelve finalists were selected from the 51,000 members who are certified members of Bord Bias Sustainable Beef & Lamb Assurance Schemes, based on their sustainability credentials.
Each finalist is efficiently producing prime cattle suitable for our major markets and are among the top performers surveyed with regard to carbon footprint, biodiversity and water quality. There is four beef category winners, read more below.
Dairy calf to beef production
Derek and Garrett Peoples
Carrigans, Co Donegal
Derek and Garrett Peoples run a dairy calf to beef operation alongside tillage and some forestry on their 220 acre farm just outside Newtowncunningham, Co. Donegal. Derek had previously been purchasing charolais x steers and finishing them but recently changed to Friesian x steers. The father and son team purchase calves in February/March from neighbouring farms and finish them between 22-26 months at an average carcass weight of 320kg. Cattle are slaughtered with local processor Foyle Meats. Garrett operates a paddock grazing system to achieve maximum liveweight gain at grass for minimum cost. Particular attention is paid to rearing healthy calves while keeping the system as simple as possible. Plans are in place to increase numbers when a new cattle shed is completed in 2019.
Weanling/store to beef production
Ballygalda, Co. Roscommon
The Auchmuty family farm is located just outside Roscommon town and has beef, sheep and tillage enterprises on a 250ha holding. The farm finishes 650 cattle per annum, runs a flock of 500 ewes and grow 70ha of barley, wheat and oats, along with 15ha of beet, all of which is fed on farm. The farm’s long-term goals are to enhance facilities and systems to increase liveweight gain, faster throughput of stock through increased feed conversion and better animal health. 90.4 % of cattle graded R= or better with 72% of cattle slaughtered having a fat score between 3- and 4= while 88% of cattle slaughtered fell between 270kg and 380kg carcase weight and 95% of cattle slaughtered were less than 30 months.
Suckler to weanling/store production
Coolnagh, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary
Nicholas Bergin is producing autumn-born weanlings to a demanding specification for live export to Greece in Coolnagh, Roscrea, Co Tipperary.
Being a breeding enthusiast and working off-farm for an AI company is a pretty good starting point. Cow-type on the farm is a three-quarter bred Limousin bred to a Belgian Blue AI sire. Weanling bulls in the autumn-calving herd are marketed at 380kg to 400kg with a sale value of €1,100 to €1,200. Having experimented with dairy-beef, Nicholas says output is not adequate to cover input costs and is increasing from 60 suckler cows to calving 80 cows in 2018.
Suckler to beef production
Rathgallen, Golden, Cashel, Co. Tipperary
Noel Farrell and his wife Joan run an 85-cow suckler-to-beef herd alongside a herd of milking goats in Rathgallen, Golden,
Cashew, Co Tipperary. Bulls are finished in an under-16-month system with close attention to market requirements and drafting bulls as they approach 400kg carcase weight while heifers not retained as replacements are finished at 22 to 24 months of age. Breeding in the suckler herd is based mainly on Simmental genetics with a small number of Aubrac cross cows also kept. Noel says that milk yield in cows is a key component with a lot of emphasis placed on selecting proven breeding lines. There is a firm focus on making high quality silage which normally ranges from 70 DMD to 75 DMD to reduce winter feed costs.