As the visitors to BEEF2024 move towards the end of the open day route, they will make their way into the Forum Centre.

Throughout the day, there will be a number of panel discussions covering key topics across a range of beef production systems.

There will also be a large food area, where there will be an opportunity to have some refreshments and to meet with a wide array of personnel from breed societies, AI companies, meat processors, beef producer groups, health and safety specialists and a wide group of bodies promoting farmer health and wellbeing.

Dairy-beef forum

At 12.30pm, two DairyBeef 500 beef demonstration farmers will be interviewed on the factors involved in their successful calf-to-beef enterprises.

Charlie Smyth from outside Virginia in Co Cavan buys in a mixture of Friesian bull calves and beef-bred calves from the dairy herd, and brings them through to finish as steers and heifers.

Charlie Smyth.

Having joined the programme in 2022, Charlie has implemented many different technologies on his farm to increase profitability and to make his farm more sustainable.

Martin Connolly is the second dairy calf-to-beef farmer on the panel. Martin is farming in Castleplunkett, Co Roscommon, and brings most of his Friesian bull calves through to bull beef at under 20 months of age.

Martin Connolly.

He has also sown red clover on his farm and will describe his experience of growing and feeding it as silage.

Suckler beef forum

At 1.30pm, two farmers from the Future Beef demonstration farm programme will talk about their suckler systems and how they manage to fit them into their farm and lifestyle. Aonghusa Fahy works full-time as a secondary school teacher while also farming in both Ardrahan, Co Galway and Tulla, Co Clare.

Aonghusa Fahy.

Most of his stock are finished on the farm as either heifers at 20 to 22 months or as steers at about 28 months of age.

Balancing a full-time job and a very busy farm will be the focus of the discussion with Aonghusa.

Shane Keaveney is the second farmer on the panel. He is suckler farming in Ballinlough, Co Roscommon, and has a number of years’ experience finishing his male progeny as bulls under 16 months.

Shane Keaveney.

Shane has invested in his breeding stock and infrastructure over the last five years and the discussion will focus on this and other technologies he is using to futureproof his farm.

Securing your future forum

At 2.30pm, the BEEF2024 ‘securing your future’ forum will begin. Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue will address the forum and this will be followed by a panel discussion chaired by Maeve Dineen, the well-known journalist and presenter from shows such as RTE’s Ear to the Ground.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue. \ Philip Doyle

Opportunities and challenges

As on previous open days, the purpose of the securing your future forum at the end of the Grange event is to address the main opportunities and challenges facing the sector and beef farm families.

Pat McDonagh. \ Barry Cronin

An impressive lineup of speakers have agreed to be part of the discussion including Pat McDonagh, founder and managing director of Supermac’s; Marie Donnelly, chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council; well-known food economist Ciaran Fitzgerald; Professor Frank O’Mara, director of Teagasc; Ken Gill, an organic beef farmer from Co Offaly; and Eamon McCarthy, who is farming alongside his son, Donnchadh, in Youghal, Co Waterford.

Food economist Ciaran Fitzgerald. \ Philip Doyle

Ken Gill.

Following a brief question-and-answer session, the audience at the forum will have the opportunity to join in the discussion and to ask their own questions of the panel. The topics covered will be wide and varied, including:

  • The importance of having a healthy and vibrant Irish beef industry.
  • How we as a sector can enhance our impact on the environment we are farming in.
  • The speed at which technology will need to be adopted on farms if we are to remain sustainable.
  • The importance of preparation and communication when it comes to succession and inheritance planning.
  • Farming and lifestyle on beef farms

    BEEF2024 will feature a number of organisations that support healthy living on beef farms with exhibits, information, advice and support for farmers and farm families. The main focus will be on maintaining good health and wellbeing, tips for working safely and managing a sustainable workload.

    Live demonstrations will take place on ATV safety, TAMS eligible animal handling equipment, staying safe with machinery and managing safety during on-farm construction and maintenance.

    Members of Trim Drama Group will perform a live farm accident re-enactment focused on the sudden and devastating consequences of being attacked by a cow.

    Linked to this demonstration, Teagasc advisers will be available to talk about best practice in animal handling and the importance of having good facilities.

    Attendees can test their calving skills with a new cow-calving simulator.

    For children, there will be child safety-focused activities, interactive farm safety games and worksheets.

  • Three forums will take place at BEEF2024 – a Dairy Beef 500 forum at 12.30pm, a suckler-beef forum at 1.30pm and a Securing your Future forum at 2.30pm.
  • There are ample opportunities to converse with Industry stakeholders and Teagasc personnel.