This report summarizes research that the author undertook as part of his doctoral
studies in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri-
The policy environment within which the Irish beef sector operates is changing
such that the demand for Irish beef will increasingly be of a market rather than a
policy determined nature. This changing environment makes knowledge
concerning the demand for Irish beef important to understanding the economic
prospects of the sector.
The objectives of this research were thus two fold. The first objective was to
investigate the demand for Irish beef in the UK. The second objective relates to
how such consumer demand models are econometrically estimated.
The empirical results show that the demand for beef in general in the UK is not
price elastic and that the demand for Irish beef in the UK is price inelastic. The
expenditure elasticity of demand for beef in the UK is also inelastic. The
implications of this result for the Irish beef industry are as follows
Decreases in the price of beef in the UK will not lead to large increases in
British demand for beef.
Increases in expenditure on meats will see expenditure on beef increase
but to a lesser extent than other meats.
Increases in the price of Irish beef relative to the prices of other beef
products on the UK market will not lead to a large decrease in the market
share of Irish beef.
The relative insensitivity of demand for Irish beef in the UK to changes in
its relative price also implies that attempts to increase the Irish share of
the UK beef market will require very large reductions in the price of Irish
Given the current dependence of the Irish beef industry on subsidized exports to
non-EU markets, the results of this research imply that attempts to re-orientate
the Irish industry more towards servicing EU beef markets will require either large
price decreases, with the consequent impacts on the market based revenue of
the Irish beef industry and farmers, or alternatively, a movement towards the
production of beef products that appeal to the non-price concerns of EU
consumers and away from the production of a commodity product.
Humphreys, James; O'Riordan, Edward G.; O'Kiely, Padraig (Teagasc, 2001-06-01)
Grass is by far the most important crop grown in Ireland.Well-managed
grassland supports high levels of animal performance, and the
production of high quality produce. Grazed grass is a relatively cheap
feed source for beef production (O'Kiely, 1994). Grazed grass does
not always match feed requirements in efficient beef production systems.
Supply tends to exceed demand in the late spring and summer
whereas deficiencies in feed supply occur in late autumn and during
the winter and early spring. The objective of the present series of
experiments was to examine the potential to increase the utilization
of grazed grass in beef production systems.There are two aspects to
this: one relates to the utilization of grass in situ; the second relates
to the strategic approach to grass utilization, i.e. matching feed
requirements with supply of grazed grass and silage conservation
during the year.
The first two experiments presented in this report examine the utilization
of grass in situ. The effects of pre-grazing pasture mass and
nitrogen (N) fertilization on the production and subsequently the utilization
and digestibility of the grass under grazing by cattle were
examined. A third experiment and examines the effect of pre-grazing
pasture mass on performance of beef cattle during a grazing season.
The fourth experiment investigates the role of perennial ryegrass
cultivars in supplying grass for grazing during the spring, and for the
production of high nutritive value first cut silage.
The work reported in this document commenced in 1997 under the auspices of the FAPRI-Ireland
Partnership. It documents the development of aggregate commodity level models for the beef and
sheep sectors, and their subsequent simulation under different policy and macroeconomic
environments. Companion reports document the development of similar models for other
commodities, and of farm level models.
Very fast chilling (VFC) of beef reduces the temperature to -1ºC after 5 hours post mortem throughout its mass. The process has many potential benefits (Joseph,1996) including the production of tender meat and greater process efficiency in the meat plant.
Since forage forms a large part of growing ruminant rations in Ireland,
the trust of this project was to examine the effect of ensilage on
ruminal digestion of grass and to examine ruminal microbial protein
and intestinally absorbable protein supplied by grass and/or clover. A
range of in vitro and in vivo techniques were employed and strategies
used by commercial beef producers to optimise cattle growth (and
nutrient supply) were also documented.
To accomplish the aims of this project, a range of methodology developments/
modifications in vitro and in vivo was carried out. From in
vitro methodology development it was concluded that :
(i) Compared with fresh silage, drying per se may give artifically
higher rates of dry matter (DM) digestion.
(ii) Greater experimental precision can be obtained by
ensuring a greater substrate surface area to reaction volume
ratio in each reaction vessel.
(iii) For studies where the rate of digestion is of greatest
importance, pre-incubation of frozen inoculum in a nutrient
medium best simulated the cellulolytic activity of
unfrozen inoculum. In studies that require large volumes
of inoculum for extended work, freezing directly is justified.
(iv) Neutral detergent extraction altered in vitro digestion
characteristics of silage. The residue after washing with
water at 70°C has a high residual fibre concentration
and is more representative of the structural components of
silage ingested by ruminants. (v) A semi-continuous culture system developed at Grange
Research Centre can successfully model in vitro ruminal
digestion of fibre and starch-based diets in a controlled
From in vivo methodology development it was concluded that :
(i) Oven drying at 60°C and correction for loss of volatiles gives a
good estimation of DM concentration of ruminal particulate
digesta. This procedure has the added advantage that drying
at 60°C allows the residual materials to be analysed for
fibre fractions without concern for heat damage which can
occur at a higher drying temperature.
(ii) A naso-ruminal sampling device can be used to measure
the relative patterns of fermentation of contrasting
diet types when in situ for up to 7 days.
(ii) Application of a vacuum to withdraw samples had no
negative effect on ruminal fluid variables.
From in vitro studies on grass digestion, it was concluded that :
(i) Ensiling of grass decreased the apparent extent of digestion of
cell walls when in the presence of the whole
plant and that this largely reflected an increase in the lag
time before digestion commenced.
(ii) Ensiling of grass did not negatively affect the digestion of
isolated cell walls.
(iii) There is a negative impact of ensiling on microbial protein
production from the water soluble carbohydrate fraction of
grass. (iv) Supplementation with the water soluble fraction of grass
significantly improved the apparent extent of digestion for
ensiled forages when compared with the supplementation
of the post-ensiling fraction in a batch culture system.
(v) There is a negative impact of maturity on the pattern of
cell wall fermentation and that this impact can be decreased
by ensiling method.
From studies on herbage digestion in vivo it was concluded that :
(i) Grass silage type had a greater effect than the rate of
concentrate fermentation on ruminal microbal protein
(ii) Harvesting time had a bigger impact on nutrient supply from
herbage than sward type (grass or grass/clover).
(iii) Increasing clover content in the herbage decreased the
biological value (g nitrogen retained/kg absorbed) of dietary
Diverse stratgies were used on commercial beef farms to optimise
nutrient supply and animal growth. Average animal performance on
individual farms was not better than would be typically recorded in
a research environment. There was scope on many of the farms to
improve technical performance and to decrease the costs of production.
French, Padraig; O'Riordan, Edward G.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Moloney, Aidan P (Teagasc, 2001-03-01)
* Unsupplemented cattle offered a high grass allowance (18 kg (DM)/head/day), achieved 0.97 of the DM intake of a positive control offered concentrates ad-libitium. At a low grass allowance (6 kg/DM/head/day), there was no effect of supplementary concentrates on grass intake. At a medium (12 kg/DM/head/day), and high grass allowance, supplementary concentrates reduced grass intake by 0.43 and 0.81 kg/DM respectively per kg/DM concentrate offered.
* Supplementary concentrates increased complete diet digestibility even though offering supplementary concentrates also increased total DM intake. Complete diet digestibility was higher than the additive values of the grass and concentrates. This would imply that the supplementary concentrates increased the grass DM digestibility.
* Increasing the grass allowance increased plasma urea concentration; supplementary concentrates increased total dietary nitrogen intake and reduced plasma urea concentration. These findings suggest that the concentrate supplement enabled greater utilisation by rumen micro-organisms of the degradable nitrogen supplied by the grass.
* Supplementing with concentrates increased carcass growth by 116 g/kg concentrate DM eaten whereas increasing the grass allowance increased carcass growth by 38 g/kg/DM grass eaten. The carcass weight response to concentrates of grazing animals was twice that of animals offered concentrates ad-libitum which gained 57 g carcass per kg concentrate DM eaten.
* The relationship between carcass gain (Y) (kg/day) and supplementary concentrates (X) (kg/day) was quadratic (P< 0.001) and was best described by the equation: Y = -0.0099X2 + 0.1364X + 0.2459 (R2 = 0.60). The relationship between carcass gain (Y) (kg day-1) and grass intake (X) was also quadratic (P< 0.01) and was best described by the equation: Y = -43X2 + 275X + 133 (R2 = 0.48). Although there was a much larger (double) carcass growth response to supplementary concentrates than to additional grass DM eaten, increasing grass intake significantly increased carcass fat scores whereas offering supplementary concentrates did not. This would imply that relative to concentrates, autumn grass led to a change in the partitioning of energy from muscle towards subcutaneous fat.
* As a strategy for increasing the performance of cattle grazing the type of autumn grass used in this study, offering supplementary concentrates offers more scope to improve animal performance than altering grass allowance.
* The carbohydrate source of the three concentrates formulated to differ in rate of degradability did not alter rumen fluid pH, volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentration or the rate of grass DM or N degradation when grass supply was considered to be limiting or liberal. The autumn grass was apparently capable of buffering the effects of concentrate DM degradation rate which varied by up to two fold.
* The rumen fluid parameters were more influenced by the pat-tern of grass intake than type of concentrate offered. Hence, there was no effect of concentrate type on animal performance.
Allen, Paul; Finnerty, Nicholas (Teagasc, 2001-10)
Three beef carcass classification systems that use Video Image Analysis (VIA) technology were tested in two trials at Dawn Meats Midleton, Co. Cork. The VIA systems were BCC2, manufactured by SFK Technology, Denmark, VBS2000, manufactured by E+V, Germany, and VIAscan, manufactured by Meat and Livestock Australia. The first trial, conducted over a 6-week period in July/August 1999, calibrated the VIA systems on a large sample of carcasses and validated these calibrations on a further sample obtained at the same time. The second trial, conducted in the first two weeks of March 2000, was a further validation trial. The reference classification scores were determined by a panel of three experienced classifiers using the EUROP grid with 15 subclasses for conformation class and 15 sub-classes for fat. In the first trial the accuracy of the VIA systems at predicting saleable meat yield in steer carcasses was also assessed.
Dunne, William; O'Neill, Ronan G.; McEvoy, Oliver (Teagasc, 2001-01-01)
The radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the early 1990’s
impacted directly and indirectly on most of the farm enterprises in Ireland. The direct
focus of the reform was largely confined to the cereal and beef enterprises. The
reforms consisted of:
• A phased reduction in the institutional support prices for cereals and beef
of the order of 30 per cent
• A phased switch to a direct payment system of farm income support to
compensate for the product price reductions.
Most farms in Ireland have a cattle enterprise, either alone or in combination with
other land using enterprises. Therefore, the reforms of the CAP affected almost all the
farms in the country either directly or indirectly. For cattle farmers, the potential consequencee of these changes could be far reaching
in terms of their magnitude and their permeation into the details of the husbandry
practices of the production system(s) themselves. These changes clearly impact on the
economic efficiency of beef systems without necessarily affecting technical efficiency
of the systems. The economic optimum cattle production systems would thus be
achieved by using the best mix of feed resource costs, carcass values and direct
The purpose of the study was to:
• determine the economic impact on the cattle enterprise of the switch to:
• lower EU prices for beef
• lower EU prices for cereals and as a consequence a lower price
for concentrate feeds
• the direct payment system of income support
• identify the economic optimum cattle production system(s) that would
arise from these changes
• quantify the sensitivity of the economic optimum system to key policy,
economic and technical production variables.
Dunne, William; Murphy, H.; O'Connell, John J.; Drennan, Michael J; Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, 2001-05-01)
The purpose of this study was to:
• establish the competitiveness of the Irish beef production systems post the 1992 CAP reform
• quantify how Irish beef production costs, and cost components, compare with those for the other EU countries
• determine the strengths and weaknesses of the Irish production systems.
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