Dale Farm and ABP announce new dairy-beef partnership – ‘Horizon’

Northern Irish dairy processor Dale Farm and beef processor ABP have joined forces to launch an initiative aimed at “building a more sustainable market for dairy beef”.

Other partners in the scheme, include: United Feeds, AI Services NI and Genus ABS.

‘Horizon’ is the first collaborative scheme of its kind in Northern Ireland and will provide a “guaranteed market” for selectively-bred dairy calves from Dale Farm members through the ABP supply chain.

Animals will be bred following strict protocols enabling them to be marketed at 20-21 months. This will ensure a significant reduction of emissions per animal resulting in a more carbon efficient model.

Nick Whelan, Group Chief Executive of Dale Farm, commented:

“Dale Farm’s core purpose is built around protecting the generational sustainability of our farmers’ businesses.

“This partnership with ABP will offer our members the opportunity to create a sustainable outlet for dairy-bred male calves, in addition to an incremental revenue stream for participants.

We have created a unique dairy-beef scheme, driven by delivering genetic improvement through selective breeding.

“We have also designed ‘Horizon’ to provide farmers with flexibility and control so they can continue to use their feed supplier of choice for cattle outside the scheme,” he added.

Various options are available to participants on the Horizon scheme. Dale Farm members will have the option to breed part of their herd to selected Aberdeen Angus genetics. These calves will be collected by ABP, with a “premium” paid for achieving desired targets.

Alternatively, Dale Farm or ABP farmers can opt to become a rearing farm for four-week-old calves. ABP will supply calf rearing inputs and provide support to maximise calf performance during the rearing period in terms of health and nutrition.

L-R: Arthur Callaghan and George Mullan (ABP) with Nick Whelan and Chris Frizzell (Dale Farm)

In return, farmers must adhere to a strict animal welfare and feeding regime. They will receive a management fee per calf, plus a bonus for performance targets achieved.

The third option focuses on the finishing period. Farmers will be supported with expert input and advice to help achieve better growth rates, improved food conversion, enhanced animal welfare, best practice feeding regimes and grassland management.

Feed supplier United Feeds will deliver nutritional and technical advice, whilst genetics experts will provide guidance and insights to farmers in the scheme.

George Mullan, Managing Director of ABP in Northern Ireland, added: 2Dairy-beef now accounts for a significant proportion of beef cattle in Northern Ireland.

“Horizon will help create a sustainable future for Northern Irish Aberdeen Angus beef, by fulfilling customer and consumer requirements for a product that adheres to stringent animal welfare and traceability standards, and has the added competitive advantage of a reduced carbon footprint.

“We are delighted to partner with Northern Ireland’s leading dairy co-operative, Dale Farm, in launching this initiative,” he concluded.