Increasing stocking rates drives financial margins

Increasing stocking rate is the key to driving gross beef output and financial margins, according to Teagasc beef specialist Bernard Smyth.

Speaking at an open day at Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research centre, Grange, County Meath, Mr Smyth said high calving rates, good animal growth performance and the right genetics to produce higher value carcasses are also important.

“All of these are being pursued at the new unit in Grange to reach the targets set, which are one-and-a-half to three times higher than those being achieved on the top third of farms as measured by the Teagasc eProfit Monitor results and the National Farm Survey,” he said.

Teagasc beef research enterprise leader Edward O Riordan also explained how a target of producing more than 1000kg of beef liveweight per hectare and a gross margin of €1000/ha had been set for the suckler beef herd at Grange.

“To achieve this we must produce high levels of high value beef output. Grazed grass is, comparatively, the cheapest feed and maximising the proportion of high digestibility, grazed grass in the annual feed budget, while simultaneously achieving high animal performance and providing sufficient grass silage of appropriate digestibility for the indoor winter period, is central to the production system.”

Teagasc drystock business and technology advisers, along with New Zealand grassland expert Adrian van Bysterdveldt, also demonstrated the ideal pre-grazing grass covers and the optimum post-grazing heights to maximise grass use. And spending just one hour per week on grass measurement and grazing management has the potential to deliver a return of €200/hour for a 25ha farm, said Teagasc beef specialist Pearse Kelly.

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