The Collaboration Between Dairy and Beef Farmers

Katie Shanahan

| General

| Apr 12, 2024

Dairy Beef Calves

In many parts of rural Ireland, the collaboration between dairy and beef farmers not only shapes the present but also paves the way for a sustainable future in agriculture. With over 60% of beef produced in Ireland starting out in the dairy herd. Amie Coonan, a seasoned beef farmer, highlights the symbiotic relationship between these sectors, emphasizing the pivotal role of genetics in maximizing profitability for both dairy and beef farmers. Before the breeding season begins it is important to plan ahead for next year and be prepared in terms of choosing bulls, record keeping and more..

Coonan’s partnership with dairy farmers demonstrates the interconnected relationship of the dairy and beef industries. In The AgriPod by Herdwatch, Amie explained that “I’m linked up with two dairy farmers who work with me and I work with them,” she shares, underscoring a relationship built on mutual understanding and shared goals rather than mere transactions. When it comes to selecting bulls, Coonan stresses the importance of genetics in achieving desired outcomes for both sectors. “I advise around best practice in terms of genetics for the best results in carcass and confirmation, easy calving and short gestation for the dairy farmer,” she notes. This collaborative approach ensures that both dairy and beef farmers benefit from selecting bulls with traits that optimize profitability and efficiency.

Coonan’s strategic approach to beef farming revolves around selecting Angus/Hereford calves known for their rapid growth and easy management. By focusing on breeds that finish quickly and exhibit docility, she maximizes productivity while minimising risk. In her quest for efficiency, Amie aims to get her cattle to the factory before their second winter, typically at 21/22 months old. This timeline underscores her commitment to strategic beef production, where every decision is geared toward optimising resources and minimising costs. Figures from ICBF


The price difference and carcass weight variation within dairy beef calves can vary significantly depending on factors such as breed, genetics, age, sex and management practices. Generally, typical dairy bulls tend to fetch lower prices compared to traditional dairy beef x breeds due to differences in growth rates, carcass confirmation, and market preferences. In terms of price difference, traditional beef breeds like Angus or Hereford may command higher prices compared to dairy beef crosses, such as Friesian bulls.


Similarly, there can be differences in carcass weight between dairy bulls and traditional beef breeds. Traditional beef breeds typically have a better feed conversion efficiency, leading to larger carcass weights at slaughter. On the other hand, typical dairy bulls will have a lower carcass weight & confirmation score but will usually finish much sooner.

Strategies such as selecting bulls with favourable genetics, implementing appropriate nutrition and management practices, and targeting specific markets can help maximize returns on investment for both dairy and beef farmers. The collaboration between dairy and beef farmers can ensure plans are made prior to the breeding season. Amie combines the relationship with the dairy farmers alongside her seamless record keeping within the Herdwatch app to ensure an efficient practice on her farm. The records associated with the calf from birth are available to view up until and after that calf is finished. The performance of each calf in your herd can be compared across different insights available in the Herdwatch app. This ensures educated and informed decisions can be made in you herd which will optimise profits for all sectors.


How Herdwatch can help you this Breeding Season

Heat Detection/ Serve Records

With the impending breeding season upon us it is important to track your pre/post breeding records for your herd to ensure an efficient system for the next 10 months. The Herdwatch app will notify you when your cow is due to come into heat after calving and allow you to record a serve for your records. With full compatibility with ICBF, AI serves carried out by a technician will automatically come down onto the app for seamless record keeping on your phone / PC. Serves carried out by your stock bull can be inputted manually for each cow and a report can then be printed out to track your cows due dates.

What else is available?
  • Scanning Records
  • Cows with no serve
  • Cows with no heat
  • Cows awaiting scan
  • Due to calf Reports
  • Calf Registration
  • Weight Recording
  • Factory / Mart Insights
  • Medicine Records
  • Sync with ICBF
How can I get the app?

You can join Amie Coonan and over 22,000 other farmers on Herdwatch by downloading the app and say goodbye to farm paperwork once and for all.

To get started on Herdwatch, Click here to download the Free App today or visit for more information.

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