There has been a mixed reaction from farm organisations to the proposed 10-point action plan for dairy calf to beef.

The stakeholder consultation on the new plan was opened by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue alongside Teagasc, the Irish Cattle and Beef Federation (ICBF) and Bord Bia on Thursday.

Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) livestock chair Declan Hanrahan said the plan lacks a guaranteed return for the financial and labour investment for the almost two years it will take to bring these animals to slaughter.

“If the minister and the sector are really serious about having these calves reared on beef farms, then meaningful targeted payments for beef farmers will be needed,” he said.

Hanrahan added that dealing with the issue of beef calves from the dairy herd is a huge challenge that must be resolved, but expecting beef farmers to take effectively all of the risk for up to two years will not lead to a successful outcome.


Hanrahan said the IFA has previously called for a €100 per calf payment for farmers taking on the rearing of dairy beef calves.

This is the minimum level of funding that will be required in order for the system to be adopted on enough beef farms, he said.

Hanrahan added that this payment must then be built on for the finishing stage and include calves from the suckler herd with another €100 per animal payment.

“Beef farmers are available to play their part, but others must step up to the plate to provide the financial resources that will be needed to have a long-term sustainable solution and to avoid a 60% drop out after a few years,” he said.


Macra welcomed the plan and encouraged farmers to engage in the consultation process.

“Unlocking the potential of dairy calf to beef systems as a viable and realistic option for farmers and especially young farmers is a critical step to securing the future development of our dairy and beef systems,” Macra president Elaine Houlihan said.

Chair of Macra’s agricultural affairs committee Liam Hanrahan welcomed the plan and said sexed semen needs to be developed further in Ireland.

“As with all initiatives and action plans, we need to follow the science. Young farmers believe in science.

“We know there are multiple benefits from initiatives such as sexed semen, which Macra has long campaigned for its development and availability to farmers to maximise its full potential.

“Sexed semen currently represents 20% of AI straws. We need to progress this further.”

“All new initiatives for dairy calf to beef systems must advance the industry while at the same time not undermining the suckler sector,” he said.

The new action plan for dairy calf to beef is set to be published in early February.

Stakeholders have until 9 February to suggest changes to the proposed plan.

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