IFA National Livestock Committee Chairman Henry Burns said the move by some meat factories to impose restrictive weight limits on bull beef production will seriously damage profitability and limit returns to farmers.
He said in practice a 380kg weight limit will not work as it removes the profitable grass based weight gain from bull beef and in turn leaves the system unviable. The reality is more of the quality weanlings bulls will head down the live export route as the factory weight limit takes away the ability of the Irish feeder to compete with his Italian counterpart.
Henry Burns said many bull beef feeders were in contact with the IFA over the last week complaining about what they describe as “a negative move to limit beef and weanling prices”.
The IFA Livestock leader said it would be a real wrong move by factories to try and force the removal of the grass based feeding period out of bull beef production. He said instead of trying to force cattle into higher cost indoor grain based feeding systems with unviable weight limits, processors should be using outdoor grass based feeding as our real point of difference in the market to secure a premium price.
Henry Burns said the reality of bull beef production is because of the high costs of indoor feeding, particularly over the last 120 days to get the necessary finish, there is very limited profit without a 6 or 7 month grazing period. The costs difference between expensive indoor feeding and grass could be as much as €3 per head per day, which would hit the enterprise by up to €500.