According to the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine’s Charlie McConalogue, plants processed just under 26,000 calves for human consumption in Ireland last year.
He outlined that plants processed these calves “in compliance with the law,” and ensured their welfare at the time of processing.
He believes that “every calf born on an Irish farm has a value” and that discussions with stakeholders at the Calf Stakeholder Forum reflect the “importance” of calf welfare.
McConalogue stated that this recognises that calf welfare is a “crucial” part of the “sustainable” dairy industry and “important” for the Irish dairy sector’s reputation.
Calf Stakeholder Forum
The forum’s objective is to:
- Co-operate to support a socially sustainable national dairy industry;
- Promote greater dairy/beef integration.
According to the minister, everyone around the table has been working together to develop and implement measures to “positively advance” these aims.
Earlier this week, the People Before Profit Alliance’s Bríd Smith asked the minister about his plans to stop the licenced slaughter of young dairy calves.
In response, the minister said:
“With my department’s assistance, the forum is advocating for the dairy industry to undertake and promote actions to reduce and indeed look to eliminate the unnecessary routine early processing of calves.”
“It is vital that we continue to explore alternative outlets for our calves. Good progress is being made, for example, through dairy-beef integration.”
Other dairy-beef-related measures
The minister pointed to the establishment of the new sexed semen laboratory in Teagasc Moorepark. He said the DAFM is “encouraged” by farmers’ increased use of sexed semen, which is “more feasible now than before”.
Furthermore, he believes that ICBF’s Dairy Beef Index’s creation has resulted in genetic trends for beef traits improving “greatly” for beef sires.
He says this reassures farmers that these beef-dairy calves have “better beef potential”.
Furthermore, he is of the view that the Integrated Dairy Beef Programme with ICOS marts also continues to deliver valuable insights on how to build a more “sustainable and integrated” beef-from-dairy model.
Genotyping and genetics are key aspects of this particular programme.
“I am confident that through the work of the Calf Stakeholder Forum, the dairy industry as a whole is committed to ensuring the highest standards of calf welfare on Irish farms,” he concluded.