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    Rural Economy & DevelopmentProgramme

    TeagascOrganic Farming

    Guidelines for Successful Organic Beef Production

    2nd Edition

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  • Teagasc Organic Farming

    Guidelines for Successful Organic Beef Production

    Teagasc Rural Economy & Development Programme

    Edited by Dan Clavin and Elaine Leavy

    2nd Edition- December 2017

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    There has been a large increase in the number of organic farmers in recent years. While the Organic Farming Scheme has been important in facilitating this growth, enhancing the underlining profitability of the system will be vital if this is to be maintained. Teagasc has a role in promoting organic farming but this only makes sense if it is profitable for farmers.

    Like all beef farmers, organic farmers are dependent on the market to deliver a return. Markets are required for our products and current signals are good regarding export markets however as in other beef enterprises there is always risk. It is however open to every farmer to control what they can within the farm gate through the use of up to date technology and best practice outlined in this booklet.

    I would encourage you to read the booklet and select individual areas that you can focus on to improve the efficiency of your farm. You can develop your knowledge further by networking with other organic farmers, joining an Organic Discussion Group and attending Teagasc/DAFM Organic Demo Farm Walks.

    Foreword

    Organic cattle production is the most important sector in the organic industry with approximately 70% of organic farmers involved in the sector. Making the most of the land while farming to EU organic standards can be a challenge as there are few quick fix solutions in organic farming but with the right attitude, skills and knowledge it is possible to be productive and increase profitability. The aim of this guidelines book is to bring into focus some of the key on-farm management practises which are part of a successful organic beef production system.

    Whether you are an existing organic farmer or a conventional farmer taking a serious look at converting, this booklet contains relevant information for you. This 2nd edition includes timely updates regarding industry and technical information as well as comprehensive updates to both the forage production and the nutrient management chapters. We would like to thank each of the contributors both within and outside of Teagasc for their time and help in bringing this publication to fruition.

    We wish every success with your farming enterprise. Editors

    Dan Clavin, Teagasc Organic Specialist

    Elaine Leavy, Teagasc Organic Specialist

    Fintan Phelan,Head, Teagasc Farm Management and Rural Development Programme

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    Organic beef production in Ireland, structure and steps towards successful conversion .......................................................................... 8 Introduction .................................................................................................................................................................. 8 Organic Beef Farming in Ireland ................................................................................................................................ 8 Structure and steps towards successful conversion .................................................................................................. 8

    Optimising animal health on organic cattle farms ..............................13 Introduction ................................................................................................................................................................13 Animal welfare ............................................................................................................................................................13 Prevention of disease ..................................................................................................................................................14 Herd Health Plan ........................................................................................................................................................15 Steps to developing an animal herd health plan .....................................................................................................15 Complying with organic certification requirements ..............................................................................................15 Withdrawal periods ....................................................................................................................................................16 Number of antibiotic treatment permitted .............................................................................................................16 Use of vaccines ............................................................................................................................................................16 Use of alternative therapies........................................................................................................................................16 Mineral supplementation ..........................................................................................................................................17 Animal housing ...........................................................................................................................................................17

    Forage production in organic farming ................................................18 Introduction ................................................................................................................................................................18 Forage management ...................................................................................................................................................18 Forage quality ..............................................................................................................................................................20 Silage quality ................................................................................................................................................................20

    Nutrient management on organic cattle farms ...................................22 Summary ......................................................................................................................................................................22 The benefits of correcting a lime deficiency ............................................................................................................22 Return on investment of lime ...................................................................................................................................23 Lime advice? ................................................................................................................................................................24 Phosphorus and potassium efficiency from animal manures ...............................................................................24 Nitrogen efficiency from animal manures ...............................................................................................................25 Importation of fertilisers ............................................................................................................................................25 Some common sources of mineral fertilisers on organic farms ...........................................................................26

    Maintaining white clover content and productivity on organic grazing swards ..................................................................................28 Introduction ................................................................................................................................................................28 Pasture supply during the year ..................................................................................................................................29 Maintaining the clover content and productivity of sward ...................................................................................30 Summary ......................................................................................................................................................................33

    Red clover - agronomy and management ............................................34 Uses of red clover ........................................................................................................................................................34 Benefits of red clover ..................................................................................................................................................34 Concerns with red clover ...........................................................................................................................................34 Red clover management .............................................................................................................................................36 Red clover conservation .............................................................................................................................................37

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    Re-seeding options on organic grassland farms ..................................38 Introduction ................................................................................................................................................................38 How will you gain? .............................................................................................................................................