The technology villages at BEEF2024, taking place on 26 June at Teagasc, Grange, will include four main villages - namely, ‘Grassland and Forage, ‘Suckler Beef Systems’, ‘Dairy-Beef Systems’ and ‘Advisory, Education and Opportunities’.

Additionally, there are standalone ‘Greenhouse gas emissions’ and ‘Finishing cattle’ demonstrations.

At the very end of the open day circuit within the forum centre, there will be a series of exhibits and interactive displays from health and safety partners, breed societies and other key stakeholders.

The village format allows beef farmers to choose areas that they feel are most important to them and permits one-to-one contact with Teagasc researchers, advisers and stakeholders.

Many of the villages will offer practical examples and demonstrations of how technologies can be implemented on beef farms.

A brief summary of each village and its contents is outlined below.

Grassland and Forage village

Management technologies that increase the economic and environmental sustainability of grass-based systems for beef farmers will form the focus of the Grassland and Forage Village. There will be an emphasis on live demonstrations.

The Grass10 campaign will display different pre-grazing and post-grazing sward heights to highlight how to maximise grass utilisation and animal performance from grazed pasture on your farm.

Currently, there is a lot of interest in red clover. Information on how to manage this crop and recent research results on cattle growth performance from red clover silage will be available.

Researchers will discuss the latest findings of the impact of white clover and multi-species swards on animal performance, as well as displaying the swards. Interestingly, animal performance from these two very diverse sward types is similar!

The Signpost programme will feature live demonstrations on fertiliser types and calibrating slurry and fertiliser spreaders.

The Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme team will have demonstrations on display outlining ways to improve water quality on your farm.

Additionally, PastureBase Ireland, grass silage, over-sowing clover, reseeding, drainage and permanent fencing demonstrations will also feature at the open day.

Greenhouse gas emissions demo

Reducing the quantity of methane (74% of Irish agricultural emissions) originating from ruminant livestock will be imperative to achieving a 25% reduction in agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.

The development of all methane abatement strategies is underpinned by the ability to accurately quantify the volume of methane emitted by ruminant livestock.

At the GHG village, a live demonstration of the research technology (GreenFeed System) used to measure enteric methane in grazing livestock will be displayed.

Researchers from Teagasc Grange were the first to use this technology, and are currently utilising it as part of an extensive dietary focused anti-methanogenic research programme on both grazing and indoor-fed beef cattle.

Results from laboratory-based experiments at Grange using the artificial rumen simulation technique (RUSITEC), and cattle production experiments at Grange using the GreenFeed System, which evaluated various anti-methanogenic synthetic and plant-based feed additives as well as contrasting pasture types, will be presented in the GHG village.

Additionally, updates on projects aimed at validating the national GHG inventory and selection of low methane-emitting beef cattle will be provided. This technology demonstration will coincide with an overview of the principle factors influencing methane emissions from livestock.

Suckler Beef Systems village

In the suckler beef village, attendees will be taken on a journey through all the key stages of a suckler calf-to-beef system. Firstly, an overview of the profitability and environmental footprint of different suckler beef systems will be presented. Current results from the Derrypatrick herd in Grange and an overview of the new research project with the herd will be available. Additionally, visitors will hear updates from Newford farm and its recently relocated suckler herd. We will have live demonstrations with researchers, advisors and Future Beef farmers focusing on optimising profit, reducing labour and minimising GHG emissions.

Demonstrations will commence with animal genetics/breeding and end with the finished animal. The demonstrations will include:

  • Geneticists from ICBF will outline how to use genetics to ‘build’ the most efficient cow for your system.
  • The actual steps to consistently achieve a 365-day calving interval for your herd will be reviewed.
  • John Donlon, veterinary scientist at Teagasc Grange, will use a simulator cow to walk you through issues around calving.
  • What are the key steps for disbudding calves, including the administration of a local anaesthetic?
  • Best weaning protocols to minimise stress and maintain calf live weight gain will be discussed.
  • How should both breeders and purchasers use the new Commercial Beef Value (CBV) index to maximize profit and reduce GHG emissions from beef cattle?
  • What are the main costs and how do you minimise them for different finishing systems this winter?
  • How optimising your housing environment can add 20 ‘extra’ kg of carcase to each animal that you finish?
  • Dairy-Beef Systems village

    The Dairy-Beef village at BEEF2024 will demonstrate how the use of bulls of a high beef merit on dairy cows can deliver dairy-beef calves of a superior Commercial Beef Value (CBV), which can deliver high carcase performance and leave more profit in the farmer’s pocket.

    Results will be presented from the dairy-beef research programme at Teagasc Grange, where animal genetic merit, breed and dietary finishing strategies are under evaluation within farms’ system studies.

    The demonstration will look at various classes and breeds of cattle and discuss which finishing systems will suit various breeds such as early-maturing Angus and Hereford, and late-maturing continentals such as Belgian Blue and Aubrac.

    The demonstration will show the optimum feeding strategies for these different types of cattle that will make the best use of the genetics available and minimise finishing cost.

    Additionally, research results from Johnstown Castle comparing grass-clover and multi-species swards in a dairy-beef heifer system will be discussed on the day.

    The village will also have a significant calf rearing demonstration, which will look at calf-shed design in order to provide an optimum environment for rearing calves and ensure a high health status. Additionally, strategies for milk feeding and calf weaning will be discussed.

    Members and farmer participants in the Teagasc DairyBeef500 campaign, which focusses on best practice to increase profitability in a sustainable manner, will be present to meet attendees. This wide ranging dairy-beef campaign also includes a new entrants training course, which may be of interest to those considering commencing a dairy-beef enterprise on their farm.

    A number of specialised Teagasc researchers and advisors will be on hand at the event to answer any questions you might have regarding what is on display during the day.

    Finishing cattle demonstration - is it possible to finish cattle earlier and hit carcase specifications?

    With finishing cattle, it is important to avoid overly long finishing periods, as feed efficiency declines with duration of feeding, and especially at high carcase fat scores.

    Nationally, 60% of beef heifers and almost half of the steers are finished with a carcase fat score of greater than 3+.

    These high fat scores suggest that there is potential opportunity to finish animals earlier.

    As part of the Irish Government’s Climate Action Plan 2024, a 25% reduction target in agricultural GHG emissions, by 2030 was established.

    Cattle finished at a younger age have lower lifetime GHG emissions. Selecting animal for sale that meet the minimum carcase fat score (2+) seems to be a challenge nationally.

    At BEEF2024, ‘finished’ Holstein-Friesian and early-maturing dairy-cross steers, as well as early- and late-maturing breed suckler steers will be on display.

    Meat factory personnel will be present and farmers will have the opportunity to discuss with them, the fat cover of the cattle on display, and the monitoring of fat levels to permit timely drafting of finished animals.

    Advisory, Education and Opportunities village display

    The ‘Advisory, Education and Opportunities’ village at BEEF2024 will address a very wide range of issues in relation to options for farm families to develop, transfer or diversify their farm businesses.

    Education is the cornerstone to developing the next generation of beef farmers. The Teagasc Education marquee at BEEF2024 is all about the different education and training pathways learners can take to a sustainable farming future.

    If you are thinking of taking a course to qualify as a ‘trained farmer’, our expert staff can guide you through the options for an Adult Green Cert programme on a part-time basis or the Distance Education Green Cert at a college or regional education centre. We will also be happy to talk about QQI Level 5 and Level 6 college courses in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, and equine. Our colleges and education centres are better equipped than ever – on the stand we will have demonstrations on tractor simulators, biodiversity, mixed swards and innovative tools for learning in Teagasc programmes.

    Transferring the family farm is a sensitive topic. We will provide practical and informative help and advice on succession and inheritance for farm families.

    Bovine TB remains a problem for livestock farms and indeed the problem seems to be deteriorating with the number of herd breakdowns increasing in recent years. The Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine will have staff on hand to answer your queries about this problematic disease.

    There are many more diversification options for farm families than ever before and it can be a difficult to decide the best development plan for your farm.

    Ireland has a very ambitious afforestation target. Our forestry staff will be present to provide practical and scheme-related information. What about organic farming?

    Why farmers might think about converting to organic production, what are the key considerations and what the economic prospects over the coming few years?

    What about the development of the anaerobic digestion industry in Ireland? Will this provide an additional income stream for grassland farmers? Meet the staff involved at BEEF2024 and discuss these options and more.