Ireland’s Minister of State Andrew Doyle and Officials of the Department of Agriculture in Dublin shared details about the ag industry in Ireland with the SDARL Alumni Travel group. Those sharing information included Nick Finnerty, Dairy Controls and Certification; Valerie Woods, Meat Policy; Peter Cleary, Asst. Principal International Trade; Karl Walsh, Economics and Planning; and John Joe Byrne, Crop Evaluation and Certification.
Milk production and beef are the two most important farming sectors in Ireland, accounting for around 60% of agricultural output. Ireland’s agri-food exports hit over $1 billion per month in 2018. The scale of their farming output relative to their domestic population of 4 million people mean that Ireland exports some 90% of its net beef output, making Ireland the largest beef exporter in Europe and one of the largest in the world. The dairy industry is robust, making use of the grasses to feed the cows about 10 months a year. About 85% of dairy output is exported, much of it as infant formula.
The group also learned more details from the Irish Farming Association Farm Center.
After a day in town, we headed to the country where we saw fantastic fields of wheat, barley, and oats nearly ready for harvest. The Kepak Feedlot finishes about 4,500 animals a year. The bulls and heifers are carefully fed to slaughter weight. Part of their ration includes mash from the Guinness brewery and from whiskey. When calves are born, they get passports to document their birth, parentage and the farmer’s information. This information travels with them to help in tracking the animals through their lives.
Tags tell the story along with a passport of where cows have lived.
Pelleted cattle feed includes mash from Guinness Beer and whiskey.
Bulls lounge on slatted floors at Kepak Feedlot in Ireland.
Each farm may raise only 15 to 20 calves a year and sells them directly to Kepak. We’ll learn more today as our tour of Ireland continues.