Results of a joint research project between ABP, Teagasc and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) show that a significant reduction in emissions from Irish cattle is possible by improving genetics.

Up to 13% of a reduction is possible, the research shows, which also led to improved returns for farmers of up to €200 per animal.

The findings could play an important role in helping Ireland’s agricultural sector achieve the goals set out in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021, the researchers said.

Sustainability Manager at ABP, Stephen Connolly; Minister of State in charge of Research and Innovation, Martin Heydon; and director of ABP Ireland, Kevin Cahill, pictured at ABP’s demonstration farm in Clonegal, Co. carlow. Image Source: Fennell Photography

The findings also apply to several beef production systems, they said.

The research was conducted at ABP’s demonstration farm and is based on six years of data from more than 4,000 animals.

The results of the study are already being shared with farmers across the country through the ICBF database of more than 233,000 calves born and reared on Irish farms raised with beef bulls from the program.

Improved genetics allow the animals to grow faster through better feed conversion and as a result they are ready for the market at a younger age, significantly reducing emissions.

Minister of State with responsibility for research and innovation at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Sea, Martin Heydon, said: “Irish grass-based beef systems are among the most sustainable production models in the world.

“The work of our farmers, coupled with the collaboration of industry partners such as ABP, Teagasc and ICBF, will be central to strengthening Ireland’s position as a global leader in beef production.

“As demonstrated on this farm, the adoption of advanced research and technologies can reduce emissions as well as improve farmers’ bottom line.”