Workshops and speakers announced as part of NBA NI Beef Expo event

The NBA team with representatives from major event sponsor Dunbia
The NBA team with representatives from major event sponsor Dunbia

The National Beef Association (NBA) has announced twelve workshops as part of the NBA NI Beef Expo run in association with Dunbia on Friday, February 23.

UNIT 1: Calf rearing and integrated supply chains

Francis Lively, Senior Scientific Officer and Project Leader of Sustainable Beef Production Systems at AFBI

Francis Lively, Senior Scientific Officer and Project Leader of Sustainable Beef Production Systems at AFBI

Situated outside Lurgan, Gary Fitzpatrick and John Toland successfully manage their Calf Rearing Unit as part of an integrated beef supply chain. Gary will give an overview of the farm business including their operating procedures and financial performance.

This will be followed by a workshop delivered by Eamon Donnelly, from Parklands Veterinary Practice, which will focus on calf health specific to growth and development throughout the rearing phase. Gary will also include how to optimise shed design to ensure optimal conditions for calf performance.

Concentrating on calf performance, Dr. Ryan Law, Agriculture Research Manager of Dunbia, will lead a workshop on calf nutrition which is specialised to the integrated beef supply chain. Dr. Law will explain an innovative approach to calf rearing that is being applied at the unit at present. This system is aimed at improving immune function and health of the calf by increasing concentrate intake and fast tracking rumen development.

Finally, AFBI researcher Gillian Scoley and PhD student Naomi Rutherford will present their cutting-edge trial: ‘The evaluation of the use of calf jackets during the transition period from a dairy to a beef farm and precision technologies for monitoring calf health for the future.’

Farm tour host farmer John Toland and Gary Fitzpatrick

Farm tour host farmer John Toland and Gary Fitzpatrick

UNIT 2: Suckler cow research

The renowned Deerpark Farm, at AFBI Loughgall, will host workshops specific to the latest research on suckler beef production.

The first workshop will be presented by Dr. Francis Lively, Head of Beef Research at AFBI, and PhD student, Lauren Chesney, discussing how farmers can improve suckler herd genetics through novel breeding methods. This will also include their findings on the impact of “Quiet Wean” technology on calf welfare and performance.

Contemplating the possible lack of ensiled forage this year, Dr Raymond Steen will lead a workshop on how to meet the nutritional needs of suckler cows, based on body condition score and resources available.

Following this, the third workshop will focus on heifer management which will be led by Francis Titterington and PhD student Sophie Tyner. This will cover how the BovIS on-line growth monitoring tool can be used to achieve 24 month calving. They will also discuss the effect of grazing systems and trace element supplementation on replacement heifer performance.

To close, Dr. Debbie McConnell, Senior Research Scientist at AFBI, will update visitors on the Grass Check Beef Project, including discussions around soil compaction.

UNIT 3: Commercial Beef


The impressive beef finishing unit ran by Jonathan Price, Glenavy will host a further series of workshops. Jonathan will begin with a farm business overview, including the logistics of how he produces a finished animal. Jonathan and Eddie Boyd, Agricultural Specialist at Dunbia, will also highlight the farm’s state-of-the-art handling facilities and the importance of having a safe environment to work with cattle.

Following on Dr. Ronald Annett, representative of Thompson Feeds, will look at beef nutrition and the importance of tailored feeding to achieve optimal DLWG and profitability. Dr. Denise Lowe, AFBI will then discuss flooring systems for beef cattle and the effects on performance between different systems.

Finishing, George Williamson, Agriculture Manager at Dunbia, will present on beef market trends, current market pressures and key challenges facing the beef industry.

This educational day of farm tours is not to be missed.

Tickets can be purchased online ( or by calling 01434601005. Farm Tours are £24 for NBA members and £30 for non-members. Student tickets are £15, please ring head office for student and group bookings.