Teagasc was established under the Agriculture (Research, Training and Advice) Act, 1988 to provide research, advisory and educational support to the agriculture and food sector. Teagasc develops its programmes, services and activities in conjunction with its clients and partners overseen by an Authority that is representative of the main stakeholder groups in the agri food sector. It is a matter for Teagasc and its Board to prioritise activities in the delivery of these services and to allocate it resources in accordance with these priorities.
I am advised by Teagasc that it does not have a role in the promotion of any particular commercial activity, including the export of live animals. Teagasc of course recognises the importance of live exports to the livelihoods of farmers and supports farmers in ensuring that this outlet continues to be a sustainable channel for calves. Teagasc’s emphasis therefore is on ensuring that animals are produced that are of the highest possible beef quality and that all welfare standards are upheld to the greatest possible extent.
Teagasc is also a member of the ‘Calf Stakeholder Forum’ recently set up by my Department. Teagasc plays two important support roles with regard to the sustainability of the export of live calves:
1. Calf management, health and breeding: Teagasc research and advisory activity emphasises the importance of colostrum feeding, calf housing and the prevention and treatment of disease. Teagasc along with ICBF have developed the Dairy Beef Index to ensure that the dairy herd produces high quality beef cattle, while at the same time minimizing any adverse consequences for calving difficulty or the gestation length of the dairy cow. In conjunction with Animal Health Ireland, Teagasc is also developing a control programme for IBR which will be critical in sustaining live exports.
2. Calf welfare: Teagasc’s research and advisory services also have a critical role in promoting the highest possible calf welfare standards across the entire supply chain i.e. on dairy farms, in livestock marts, during transport and in lairage. It should be noted that research work carried out at Teagasc Grange on the welfare implications of the transport of live animals to the continent has been instrumental in the maintenance of live exports from Ireland.