David Craig, alongside his father Clive and brother Aidan, is running a calf-to-beef enterprise as well as a pedigree and commercial flock of ewes on their farm near Clonard, Co. Meath. Previously, their family farm had both suckler and dairy calf-to-beef systems, but they have recently placed more focus on the calf-to-beef enterprise. David joined ABP Food Group’s Advantage Beef Programme, which offers a beef sustainability price bonus of 20c/kg and free access to a farm liaison support team. In a video, David explains why they joined the Advantage Beef Programme and gives an overview of their farming enterprise at home.
Since joining the programme, David has become more aware of the importance of sourcing calves with high genetic merit for his beef system. The Advantage Beef Programme farm liaison team assists David in sourcing from dairy farmers producing these type of calves for beef production. He buys calves direct off-farm and has a preference for buying calves bred from cows with no Jersey breeding. This spring, dairy herds that supplied calves to David have been allocated beef artificial insemination (AI) straws for free, to use on cows that will produce calves for David in 2024.
David has a preference for sourcing heifers as opposed to bull calves, as the heifers tend to finish quicker. The aim on the farm is to have all cattle finished before their second winter and to produce a 300kg carcass. However, last year, the heifers had carcass weights ranging from 297kg to a bottom of 200kg. David’s ABP Beef Benchmark Report from last year highlighted a 30kg carcass weight difference between the top and bottom third of his heifers. David attributes this carcass weight difference to better beef genetics in the top third of the heifers.
The ABP Advantage Beef Programme’s 20c/kg Sustainability Bonus was worth over €3,000 to the family farm last year alone. Commenting on his future farming plans, David said he hopes to continue to improve his dairy calf-to-beef operation by focusing on selecting calves with better beef genetics and through further improving the grassland management on the farm. The Advantage Beef Programme has been a great help in achieving these goals, especially with the assistance of the farm liaison support team.