Tensions in beef breeding circles are running high ahead of the second Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) beef stakeholders meeting to take place in the Tullamore Court Hotel at 9.30am this Thursday.

A meeting of over 100 farmers at a Roscommon IFA county executive last week carried a motion of no confidence in ICBF.

A letter seen by the Irish Farmers Journal from the pedigree breeders council sent to ICBF CEO Seán Coughlan, Minister of Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Paul Dillon, chair of the ICBF beef stakeholders group, this week outlined their frustrations with the first meeting, including the fact that no minutes were circulated.

A huge amount of unrest remains around a couple of key issues, including cow weights.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands that a cow weight base of 450kg is going to be applied, below which no bonus will be applied to the replacement index.

Other issues of contention include the Teagasc model used to determine the indexes with particular reference to the costs included and how relatable they are to extensive suckler systems in the west of Ireland, where stocking rates are very low and fertiliser application is minimal.

The price of weanlings being used in the model is also being questioned, and it is understood Teagasc has commissioned a study; however, the results won’t be seen for some time.

Dates of birth

Speaking at an IFA meeting in Donegal last week, Seán Coughlan was firm in his stance that the star system was working comparing one-star and five-star cows on Donegal farms, with five-star cows coming out on top.

He also called into question some of the dates of birth being recorded for high-end weanlings. “Let’s be honest, I know for a fact that dates of birth on those animals are bunkum, because all those fat stock shows and sales are based on calves being born in the calendar year.

“We are trying to roll out electronic handhelds all along the western seaboard, and farmers are refusing to record serves, because any calf born from 1 September is registered on 1 January for these fat stock sales, and we are supposed to make what we can out of that data then.

“I think the fat stock scene is positive to get young people involved in agriculture but the fat stock scene is not what we are about,” he said.