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Article appeared in issue 2, 2022

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ABP has adopted a data- driven breeding approach to reducing beef herd emissions 


ABP has announced the launch of a new integrated sustainable beef production scheme for farmers, called Advantage Beef Programme. The programme is open to dairy, beef and suckler farmers and will guarantee a sustainability bonus for animals reared to agreed protocols and bred to an approved minimum genetic merit standard by 2023.

The scheme is underpinned by leading genetic research, which has been undertaken in collaboration with the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation and Teagasc at ABP’s Demonstration Farm in Carlow. This research has focused on combining efficient on-farm practices, prescribed rearing protocols and optimum sire selection for beef animals and has also incorporated the principles of ABP’s Blade Farming model. Farmers will also be free to purchase feed from a supplier that suits them best. Commenting at the launch, Kevin Cahill, Managing Director, ABP Ireland said:  “We are delighted to launch this inclusive integrated beef programme which will be open to beef, dairy and suckler farmers. Our focus is on delivering a model which will help farmers to improve their on-farm efficiencies whilst also delivering more sustainable outcomes.”

Animals participating in the programme are expected to be marketed at 18-28 months, depending on the farming system, with an average age of 24 months, some three months below the national average. This will ensure a significant reduction of emissions per animal, resulting in a more carbon efficient and lower cost of production model overall. Importantly, the scheme will also result in better returns for farmers.

ABP’s research has involved over 4,000 animals since 2014 and has demonstrated that with a data-driven select breeding approach, significant methane emission reductions are achievable. The research is being supported by Teagasc, and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation has also found that returns to farmers could increase by up to €200. Similar research work has also been undertaken by ABP in the UK in collaboration with Harper Adams University.

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