The scene at a previous Beef Open Day at Teagasc Grange.

Teagasc Grange prepares for Beef2022 Open Day

Research, office and laboratory staff at centre getting ready for national event

After a four year absence the national beef open day returns to the Teagasc Beef Research Centre at Grange on Tuesday next, 5th July. The theme of the open day this year is ‘Supporting Sustainable Beef Farming’ and this gives some insight into the focus of the day. First and foremost, sustainable beef farms are economically viable. The open day provides farmers from the beef industry a chance to see first-hand the latest research being carried out by researchers to improve farm profitability in the beef sector while operating in a sustainable way. A large attendance is expected at the event and behind the scenes work is underway to ensure that the large site is organized and ready to accommodate the expected crowds by a dedicated group of farm staff members.

Preparation for the event

The Grange campus comprises over 250 hectares of grassland with substantial research, office and laboratory facilities that require constant upkeep and maintenance along with up to 1,300 animals that need to be attended to on a daily basis all year round. The operation of the site and care of animals would not be possible without the dedicated farm staff that work all year round to ensure the smooth running of the research facility.

Many of the staff have been employed in Teagasc for over 20 years and have consistently embraced the many changes in technology that has taken place in agriculture over that period of time.

Oversight of the Grange farm is provided by farm manager, Eddie Mulligan. The group of farm staff comprises of the maintenance crew, namely, Joe Costello who caters for all the plumbing requirements, brothers Frank and Davey Gorman who provide all machinery maintenance and metal requirements and John Weldon who skilfully constructs all the information boards that are on view on the day.

Maintenance of the grounds and hedgerows throughout the campus are diligently taken care of by Gabriel Costello.

All animals on view have been carefully taken care of on a daily basis throughout the year by the excellent stockmen Brian Duffy, Pat Whelan, Liam Kirke and farm technician John Horan.

This work is complemented by the assistance of farm relief staff Christy Colgan, Patsy Martin, Noel McInerney, Jason Burke and John Vaughan. Fencing requirements which is on evidence on the day throughout the site is provided by Pat Kane and Martin Ryan.

A large amount of machinery tasks are required throughout the year including loader operations, silage cutting, spraying, slurry spreading and fertilizer spreading and with significant advances in technology the skilled staff, namely, Lorcan Kelly, Hugh Mulligan, Tony Curry, Jimmy Grimes, Seamus Fagan complete these tasks to the highest standard.

Hugh Mulligan

All of this work is complemented by Peter Farrell who for many years has travelled to every corner of the country sourcing and collecting the vast supplies required to keep a large research facility operational.

Administrative support for Grange is headed up by administration co-ordinator Ann Gilsenan who is ably supported by Mary Weldon and Mary Murphy. Of course, a large site like Grange requires detailed and timely inventory management; this is especially the case for an event like BEEF2022. These duties are overseen by Joe Gill and Peter Grimes.

The focus of BEEF2022 will be on the application of technologies that will help beef farmers increase the profitability and environmental sustainability of their family farm businesses. Best practice and latest research findings in relation to grazing management, animal nutrition, beef genetics, reproductive management, animal health and farm planning will form the main focus of the day. A major concern at present is the historically high input prices that have impacted on production costs for beef farms. The implications of these price rises, and strategies to mitigate their impacts on farm profitability, will be highlighted.

A number of key questions pertinent to all beef farmers will be addressed on the day, including:

- What is the most suitable beef production system for you and your farm?

- What are the key performance targets for efficient beef systems?

- How do you meet these performance targets?

- How can beef farms farm profitability in the context of extreme price volatility?

The core technologies and management practices for efficient beef farms will be covered within ‘Technology Villages’.

These will include:

Environment, including ‘Signpost Farms’; will include an overview of the pathways to carbon neutrality and broader aspects of environmentally sustainable beef farm systems.

Sustainable grassland; will focus on latest research and best practice in grassland management

Suckling systems; including participants from the ‘Future Beef Programme’ and updates from the Derrypatrick and Newford Herds.

Dairy-beef systems; will feature the Grange dairy-beef systems experiment, the ‘DairyBeef 500 Campaign’ and key elements of successful dairy calf to beef systems.

Growing and finishing cattle village; will look at aspects of grass-based and indoor finishing system including nutrition, genetics and health.

Meat quality; will include a large presence from Bord Bia, highlighting the importance of ‘grass-fed’ beef and Quality Assurance as part of our unique selling point for international customers.

Advisory, education and policy; will provide an overview of the pathways for a career in agriculture, issues around succession and inheritance and the implications of policy reform.

Farming lifestyle; beef farms are overwhelmingly family farm business and therefore health and safety and achieving a good work-life balance is critical. These issues will be covered within this village.

There will be live displays in relation to low emissions slurry application, grazing management and health & safety throughout the day. Livestock from the various suckler and dairy-beef studies at Grange will be on display. There will also be workshops on calf rearing, anti-microbial & anthelmintic resistance, drafting cattle for slaughter and two-year-old calving.

In the afternoon there will be a forum on the sustainability of Irish beef farming. Irish beef is known globally for its high standard of production and nutritional benefits with regard to human health. It is predominantly grass-fed, pasture-raised and fully traceable from farm to fork. Irish beef has a very low carbon footprint and farms are audited every 18 months with the aim of lowering it further. Family-run beef farms are the backbone of rural communities in Ireland. In the afternoon, a panel of experts will address these credentials.

BEEF2022 is your opportunity to see first-hand the results of Teagasc’s comprehensive beef research and innovation programme and to meet Teagasc research, advisory and education staff. We look forward to meeting you on Tuesday 5th July.