Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is offering farmers involved in beef finishing and suckled calf production the opportunity to travel to England to learn about innovative systems for finishing cattle.

The trip to Yorkshire is part of the Farm Innovation Visits Scheme. A particular focus will be on feedlot finishing cattle from other farms, where the business model involves ownership being retained by the primary producer.

It will also showcase alternative marketing arrangements which could improve profitability for the farmers and improve the health, welfare and performance of suckler beef cattle.

Advisors will also demonstrate how recording data such as residual feed intake is an important way to identify efficient, low maintenance cattle which reduce greenhouse gases and the information can be used in genetic evaluations.

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) will manage the trip. Jimmy Hislop, a beef and sheep consultant will provide specialist support to help the group consider the merits of the business models being demonstrated.

The group will leave from Belfast City Airport on February 13 and will return on February 14. The trip will be led by CAFRE advisers Francis Breen and Kevin O’Donnell.

A total of 15 places are available. Places will be awarded on a competitive basis.

How to apply

Applications are invited from one member or employee of each farm businesses who is aged 18 or older on the application closing date and not in full-time education.

In addition, those applying must have financially benchmarked their farm within the last two years and applicants must identify a group of farmers to share their findings with upon their return.

The Farm Innovation Visit scheme, which is part of the NI Rural Development Programme and part-funded by the EU, will cover the costs associated with setting up the visit, accommodation, travel outside of Northern Ireland, breakfast, lunch and evening meals when in England.

Participants will be expected to meet any additional costs including farm relief and travel insurance.

Farmers involved in Beef Finishing or Suckled Calf Production who are interested in participating can find out more details and complete an application online.

Applications open on Monday, January 7 and close on Friday, January 18 at 4:00pm.