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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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New calf-to-beef programme offers 20c/kg sustainability bonus

ABP has launched Advantage Beef Programme, a new integrated sustainable calf-to-beef production scheme for farmers.

The meat processor stated that this is the “first integrated” beef scheme in Ireland to pay a sustainability bonus to farmers.

The programme – open to dairy, beef and suckler farmers – will guarantee a sustainability bonus for animals reared to agreed protocols and bred to an approved minimum genetic merit standard by 2023.

The processor will pay a sustainability bonus of €0.20/kg to all cattle meeting scheme requirements. Farmers will receive an additional SBLAS Quality Assurance payment.

Advantage Beef Programme

In addition, it will pay the breed bonus for Angus cattle and a Hereford bonus to exiting Hereford Prime members who supply Hereford cattle to ABP.

The meat processor stated that “leading” genetic research, undertaken in collaboration with the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation and Teagasc at ABP’s Demonstration Farm in Carlow, underpins the scheme.

This research has focused:

  • Efficient on-farm practices;
  • Prescribed rearing protocols;
  • Optimum sire selection for beef animals;
  • The principles of ABP’s Blade Farming model.

Farmers will also be free to purchase feed from a supplier that suits them best.

What animals are eligible?
  • Firstly, purchase animals Bord Bia Quality Assured herd;
  • Also, animals must be reared all of their life in a Bord Bia Quality Assured herd (All of life in an Advantage Beef Programme herd not required);
  • All breeds are eligible except for Jersey cattle or beef cattle with 12.5% Jersey breeding/any other extreme dairy breeds;
  • Includes cattle sourced from the dairy and beef herd;
  • Steers and heifers must be a minimum of 12 months (365 days) on the finishing farm;
  • Young bulls under 16 months must be a minimum of 6 months (183 days) on the finishing farm;
  • Maximum of 1 movement (2 residencies);
  • There is an exception of 1 extra movement for animals that have been reared in a contracted rearing system;
  • ABP must have approved the rearing farm. Calves must be moved onto the finishing farm before reaching five months of age;
  • Minimum of 20 cattle per finisher herd;
  • Steers, heifers and young bulls (Maximum of 10% of scheme cattle to be young bulls);
  • ABP will prioritise suckler-bred young bulls over dairy-bred bulls. It will consider bulls entering the programme on a “case by case basis”;
  • The target is a P+ grade or great with a fat score of 2+ to 4+. Carcass weights range from 230-400kgs, depending on the category.
Improve on-farm efficiencies

Commenting at the launch, Kevin Cahill, managing director, ABP Ireland, said:

“Our focus is on delivering a model which will help farmers to improve their on-farm efficiencies whilst also delivering more sustainable outcome.”

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.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the processor said:

“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, which Teagasc, and the ICBF support, has also found that returns to farmers could increase by up to €200.

Furthermore, ABP in the UK has undertaken similar research in collaboration with Harper Adams University.

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