Teagasc’s new Future Beef programme will be launched on Monday 6 December by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Teagasc director Professor Frank O’Mara.

The new programme aims to demonstrate how suckler farmers can produce a quality product as efficiently as possible, while addressing the twin concerns of environmental and social sustainability.

The initiative, which is being launched on the holding of Oliver O’Hara, Leckaun, Co Leitrim, will be driven by the on-farm actions of more than 20 participating suckler farmers.

Each of these farms is representative of their region in terms of farm size, soil type, system and stock numbers, Teagasc stated.

The key objectives of the programme are to:

  • Create more sustainable and profitable farms.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and ammonia emissions.
  • Improve water quality.
  • Improve biodiversity.
  • “We will achieve this by focusing on reducing inputs and the cost of production, while increasing the performance of every animal on the farm,” a Teagasc spokesman explained.

    Improving animal health and breeding, as well as grassland management, will be critical elements of the programme at farm level.


    The aim is to ensure that every cow on every farm produces a calf every year. The programme is targeting a 200-day weight of 250kg for heifer calves and 300kg for bulls. This is an average daily gain of at least 1.15kg per day.

    It is also anticipated that all replacement heifers should be calving at two years of age.

    The programme will seek to improve grassland management on the participating farms. The key focus areas with regard to this are:

  • Developing practical grassland management programmes for each region.
  • Extended grazing – early spring grass and a planned closing in autumn.
  • Optimising soil fertility.
  • Increased use of low emission slurry spreading (LESS) and protected urea.
  • Paddocks , infrastructure and rotational grazing.
  • With regard to herd health, the priority areas are:

  • A comprehensive health plan: vaccination, correct dosing policy using faecal sampling.
  • Improved ventilation and environment in sheds.
  • Nutrition – diets based on forage analysis and animal requirements.
  • The performance level of each farm participating in the programme will be recorded throughout the year. All results will be communicated though the Future Beef website, social media, discussion group visits and farm walks.

    The Teagasc team overseeing the programme includes Martina Harrington, Gabriel Trayers and Aisling Molloy. The initiative is supported by Meat Industry Ireland and all the main beef processors.