Dawn Meats farm welcomes guests

More than 2,000 farmers gathered at the Dawn Meats Newford Suckler Demonstration Farm for a showcase of the farm’s full year in operation. 

The 56-hectare establishment was created by Dawn Meats in 2015, with support from McDonald’s, The Irish Agriculture & Food Development Authority and The Irish Farmers Journal, with the aim of demonstrating best practice in sustainable suckler beef production.  

The farm now has plans to improve profitability of the herd of 100 cattle over a five-year period.

“The idea to establish the Newford Herd was all about sharing best practice and developing practical examples to improve the profitability and sustainability of beef farming,” said Isla Roebuck, operations director at Dawn Meats UK.

“The number of visitors proves that farmers have a real appetite to learn more about adapting their farm systems to produce the lighter type of animals which meet modern customer requirements.”

The establishment’s breeding policy is successfully producing calves which rapidly gain weight and will subsequently deliver carcase sizes that meet customer demand.

Newford Farm’s open day gave visitors guided walking tours of the farm every half hour from 2pm until 7pm, providing guests with the chance to see the farm’s production system in action and to learn how it deals with challenges. Key areas for discussion include cow type, grassland management, herd health, breeding approach and planning and data gathering.

“The Newford system is all about driving efficiency and reducing reliance on factors farmers cannot control, like the price of bought-in-feed,” commented farm manager Matthew Murphy.

He said that everybody who visited the farm was impressed by how rapidly the calves were able to gain weight. “We are encouraging farmers to focus on the profitability and efficiency of their farm system rather than showcasing what might be a very good looking animal, but one that isn’t what the market is looking for and cannot be reproduced consistently. What farmers may lose in carcase size, they will more than make up for through the lower cost of production.”

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