The first draft of cattle from the Thrive dairy calf-to-beef demonstration farm in Cashel, Co Tipperary, this year is almost a month later than last year. This is due to the heifers being housed for finishing early due to grass shortages. However, the average carcase weight is up by almost 15kg on the first draft of last year.
While this indoor period does incur greater costs in terms of silage use and slurry handling, the concentrate input is the same, as they would have been fed to the same level at grass.
It also has a benefit in terms of improving killout percentage, as well as firming up the carcase fat on the animal and reducing the yellowness of the fat, which can have a positive effect in terms of reduced carcase fat score for these animals.
Twelve Hereford-sired heifers were slaughtered on Monday 19 September at an average age of 19 months and eight days at a liveweight of 536kg.
They achieved an average carcase weight of 279.1kg, ranging from 255kg up to 296kg.
All stock managed to maximise the in-spec 20c/kg bonus as they all fell within a conformation score of O= to R- and a fat score range of 3= to 4=. The average grade was O+4-.
In terms of carcase value, they were killed at a base price of €4.75/kg plus the 20c/kg in-spec bonus, and a 15c/kg Hereford breed bonus brought the price to €5.10/kg. Allowing for grid adjustments, the average price paid was €4.98/kg, taking the average carcase value to €1,391/head.
This ranged from €1,274 for a 255kg carcase that graded O+4= up to €1,474 for a 296kg carcase of the same grade.
There were 11 Angus heifers slaughtered this week and in next week’s paper there will be a full breakdown of their slaughter performance.
With these stock types, regular drafting is very important – even since the first heifers were drafted less than two weeks ago, there is another batch of heifers coming fit for slaughter.
Even feeding these heifers for one week extra could be very costly, as they creep into 4+ or 5 fat scores, which come with a beef price penalty.