Duration 6 years commencing Spring 2000

Team and Leader R.W.J. Steen

Organisations Involved Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland, Agricultural Economics Division, Newforge Lane and Scottish Agricultural College.

Background and Summary

Rearing and finishing Holstein calves could provide an additional enterprise for beef producers in the current situation of low profitability in the beef industry. However, beef from Hosteins is only useful for manufacturing, and conventional cereal bull beef production is currently uneconomic unless one BSP can be claimed. 

This is likely to be possible only to a very limited extent, especially due to the inclusion of heifers in the calculation of stocking rates for BSP and extensification claims, which will put additional pressure on stocking rates and land area requirements for claiming SCP, BSP etc. Also claiming BSP on Holsteins will reduce the BSP payments on calves from suckler herds. Therefore, a more economical approach so that Holsteins can be reared without BSP is needed. Slaughtering at light weights would greatly improve efficiency of converting food to lean beef. In the USA very lean bull beef is mixed with fat trimmed from feedlot cattle to produce mince for manufacturing. In this project Holstein bulls reared on a cereal-beef ration would be slaughtered at a range of weights from 350 to 550 kg liveweight, to examine the effects of slaughter weight on production economics, the efficiency of lean meat production, quality of the manufactured products and their suitability for the market place. The quality and marketability of the product will be undertaken in conjunction with ABP Newry.


Animals to be reared in the winters of 1999/00 and 2000/01 and slaughtered at 9 to 14 months of age, with all animals slaughtered by May 2002.


The project aims are to develop a viable alternative enterprise for beef farms and provide an outlet for Holstein bull calves from dairy farms.