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Finishing dairy-origin beef Blueprint

A modelling study conducted by the Northern Ireland Red Meat Industry Task Force (report first published October 2007) identified that ‘there may be viable models of production using dairy-origin beef that break even on a full economic profitability basis in Northern Ireland assuming aggressive cost efficiencies and farm-gate prices closer to those seen in GB’.
The Northern Ireland Red Meat Industry Task Force Strategy Review provided data on two alternative finishing models – one for dairy/beef crosses, and one for full-bred dairy animals, and indicated that they would break even on a full economic profitability basis assuming the following criteria were applied:
  1. Efficient grassland management to enable grass-fed animals to be finished at 18 months of age or less;
  2. Correct breed and gender choice to enable this to happen, such as dairy/Aberdeen Angus and Hereford crossbred steers and heifers, dairy/Continental crossbred heifers or dairy steers for grass-based systems;
  3. Holstein or dairy/Continental cross bulls are finished intensively on a cereal-beef system;
  4. Labour efficiency is increased to 400 animals per man at any one point in time.
Efficiency improvements are not only likely to lead to profitability, but will also reduce the carbon footprint of beef production, a matter which has come to the fore since the original Task Force Report.
The objective of this booklet is to describe the optimum finishing systems for dairy origin animals from purchase as weaned calves through to slaughter. Much of the information has been derived from research work conducted at AFBI Hillsborough, which came to a conclusion after the Task Force Report was published. The first step of production – the calf rearing phase – was covered in the “Dairy Calf Rearing Protocol” which has already been published by the Task Force.


  • Objectives, Targets, Alternative Systems and Markets
  • Sources of weanlings and precautions to be taken
  • Systems suitable for young bulls
  • Systems for steers and heifers
  • Nutritional regimes
  • Housing
  • Potential Health Problems
  • Economics of dairy beef systems
The full report can be downloaded at the link below:
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