Two Northern Ireland agri-food businesses, Dale Farm and ABP, have joined forces to launch an initiative to provide a more sustainable market for dairy beef.
Called Horizon, the new initiative aims to respond to the increasing demand for quality Northern Irish beef, sourced securely with a shorter supply chain and reduced carbon footprint.
According to ABP, Horizon is the first collaborative scheme of its kind in Northern Ireland and will provide a guaranteed market for selectively bred dairy calves from Dale Farm members through the ABP supply chain.
CEO of Dale Farm Nick Whelan said: “This partnership with ABP will offer our members the opportunity to create a sustainable outlet for dairy bred male calves, in addition to an incremental revenue stream for participants. We have created a unique dairy beef scheme, driven by delivering genetic improvement through selective breeding.”
The companies claim that animals will be bred following strict protocols enabling them to be marketed at 20-21 months, around four months below the UK average. This will ensure a significant reduction of emissions per animal resulting in a more carbon efficient and lower cost of production model overall.
The Horizon scheme will offer various options to participants with Dale Farm being able to breed part of its herd to selected Aberdeen Angus genetics. These calves will be collected by ABP with a premium paid for achieving desired genetic traits. On farm research by ABP has demonstrated that the use of superior genetics can result in production savings of up to £100 per head.
The dairy beef partnership will support farmers in achieving better growth rates, improved food conversion, enhanced animal welfare, full product traceability, better practice feeding regimes and grassland management. It will also offer farmers improved financial returns in return for enhanced production efficiencies.
George Mullan, managing director of ABP in Northern Ireland, said: “Horizon will help create a sustainable future for Northern Irish Aberdeen Angus beef by fulfilling customer and consumer requirements for a product that adheres to stringent animal welfare and traceability standards and has the added competitive advantage of a reduced carbon footprint.”
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