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Beef – Ireland, Dempsey Farm

This case study shows how beef production in today’s climate can be undertaken in an economically viable manner, whilst maintaining the welfare of the animals and controlling the impact on the environment.

Dempsey Beef Farm in Ireland is an efficient and economically successful business that demonstrates high standards in animal welfare and environmental performance.

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Key areas of good practice
Certification / assurance:

All cattle are reared under the requirements of The Beef Quality Assurance Scheme. The farm agrees to abide by a code of practice covering issues such as stockmanship, welfare, nutrition, use of veterinary medicines, animal traceability and environmental controls. This is independently audited by Bord Bia.

The farm is a member of the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS), which encourages simple and effective environmental management on the farm.

The farm is a participant of the Suckler Cow Welfare scheme, which requires seven compulsory measures to be implemented to improve the welfare of stock.

Animal welfare:

Rubber slat covers have been fitted into the winter housing of finishing cattle to improve welfare conditions. Despite initial outlay costs, the improved conditions result in increased growth rates and finishing weights, delivering increased financial returns to the farm.

Straw bedded calving pens and calf creep areas are provided during the winter housing. This improves comfort and animal health.

Heifers are not put to the bull until they are 20–22 months of age to calve down at 30 months plus. Waiting until the heifers are older helps to reduce the incidence of dystocia (calving difficulties).

Good handling facilities allow routine health checks to be undertaken in a timely and cost– effective manner, with reduced incidence of worker and animal injury.

Soil health:

Soil testing is conducted in grassland to improve fertiliser use and efficiency, and clover is grown to reduce the requirement of nitrogen applications.

A 15,750 litre concrete tank has been installed to capture the rain water falling on the roof of the cow shed. The system will capture in the region of 200,000 litres of water and save €472 per year.


A reed bed has been established on the farm to clean the water which runs off of the farm's concrete yards. Yard water run–off is diverted through a reed bed which filters out any pollution prior to release into the local river. The system harnesses natural processes; ensuring that water quality is maximised at low cost and without associated negative environmental impact.M

Ecosystem protection:

One hectare of habitat and one hectare of Linnet have been planted. These areas provide winter feeding and foraging zones to the wild bird populations.