More than 1,000 farmers gathered on Wednesday the 6th of September at Newford Suckler Demonstration Farm in Athenry, County Galway for an Open Day showcasing the learnings of the farm’s most challenging year of operation to date. 

The farm’s breeding policy is successfully producing calves from Angus and Hereford cross cows which are brought to finishing and produce carcass sizes that meet market requirements. A 10-week breeding program is implemented using AI and straws that are carefully selected to achieve the right balance between calving ease and good carcass growth.  

Cow type at Newford differs from the typical suckler herd, comprising first-cross Aberdeen Angus /Hereford cows, bred from the dairy herd for their docility and fertility traits This year’s crop of 105 calves includes 4 sets of twins which is indicative of high fertility levels within the herd with a calving interval of 362 days as compared to the national average of 396.

Farm Manager Matthew Murphy said: “In addition to losing 15.5 ha for a much needed school in Athenry, we like many other farms across the country have experienced a very challenging year, contending with a difficult spring, a delayed turnout of stock and, more recently, drought conditions. It is hard to believe that drought has been a feature of the year when one of the greatest challenges since the project began in 2015 has been dealing with high volumes of rainfall. 

The last three and a half years has highlighted many positive features of the production system, with the 100-cow first cross Angus and Hereford herd excelling in breeding and calving performance”.

The farm was established by Dawn Meats and Teagasc in 2015, with support from McDonald’s and additional technical assistance from the Irish Farmers Journal, to demonstrate best practice in sustainable suckler beef production. 

Newford Farm has set ambitious targets over it’s 7year term including:

  • Improved profitability: Increase gross margin over 5 years, from €495/ha in 2015 to €1,170/ha in 2020.  
  • Ambitious weight gain: Increase carcass weights of heifers from 280kg in 2015 to 330 kg in 2020, and from 295kg to 365kg for steers over the same period
  • Maximise grazing: Targeting over 200 days on grass based on a high stocking rate of 2.7 livestock units per hectare.
  • Reduce variable costs: Newford aims to reduce variable costs as a percentage of total output from 74% in 2015 to 45% in 2020.

The Open Day, which was a KT approved event offered guided walking tours of the farm every half hour from 2pm to 6pm giving visitors the chance to see the production system in action and learn how it has dealt with the many challenges of the last 12 months from extremely heavy rainfall starting in September 2017 through to the drought conditions of summer 2018. 

Representatives from key industry organisations including Bord Bia, the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation and Agri-aware were in attendance, with representatives from Dawn Meats, Teagasc and the Irish Farmers Journal on site to answer farmers’ queries.

Key areas for discussion included:

  • Grassland Management: The high stocking rate of 2.7LU/ha puts pressure on grass demand, and attendees discussed the approach used at Newford, where growth rates range from 15kgs /week/Ha to 140kgs/week/ha across the year with the farm divided into 72 grazing paddocks. Grass growth rates are closely monitored weekly to allow effective management decisions on grass useage..
  • Herd Health: Newford’s comprehensive herd health plan drawn up in conjunction with the farm Vet was explained in detail, giving the full breakdown of the herd vaccination program including biosecurity measures taken in consideration of  the large number of visitors to the farm annually 
  • Breeding Approach: Breeding performance is the foundation for high herd output, with Newford targeting the herd to produce greater than 0.95 calves/cow/year.  A 10-week breeding program is implemented using AI and straws are carefully selected to achieve the right balance between calving ease and good carcass growth.  
  • Planning and Data Gathering: Newford is working to a 5-year farm plan and careful gathering of data by Teagasc is a key component of successful implementation, with particular attention paid to the potential to operate the farm as a one-man unit.
  • Data Analysis: In considering future plans for the farm each area of performance is analysed and areas for improvement are identified. These improvement targets are then prioritised in successive updates of the plan so that progress can be closely monitored by the stakeholder group.

Niall Browne, CEO of Dawn Meats said: “Sharing best practice and developing practical steps to improve the sustainability of Irish beef farming was a key objective for establishing the farm at Newford. We are delighted with the high turnout today and it shows Irish farmers have a real appetite to carefully consider and challenge in equal measure, the practices implemented on the farm and where appropriate adapt their farm systems to improve output and enhance herd management.” 

Newford Farm is located in Athenry, Co Galway just off Junction 17 of the M6 motorway.  For more information and regular updates on progress at the farm please visit at  

Dawn Meats has been awarded ISO 50001 energy management certification for our work in Ireland to hit sustainability targets of reducing our energy intensity by 40% by 2025.

The award by Certification Europe recognises our comprehensive energy management system across eight of our Irish processing sites. 

Energy audits were conducted across each location and are being used as the baseline against which future reductions will be measured through a series of improvements including heat recovery systems and investment in low energy infrastructure.

Dawn’s Group sustainability targets and commitments for 2025 include reducing energy and water intensity by 40% and CO2 emissions intensity by 50%.

The success of the energy management system has been achieved by teamwork and a commitment to excellence, with an ‘energy champion’ leading the project at each location. The sites vary in activity type ranging from beef and lamb primary processing, to production of retail ready fresh and frozen consumer packs and processing of animal by-products.  

A key challenge throughout the project was designing a system that was representative of each individual site’s energy profile and activity and at the same time enabling a common format for multi-site analysis and reporting from a central hub. 

Niall Browne CEO Dawn Meats commented: "The team at Dawn Meats underwent a rigorous audit process with Certification Europe to progress our ambition to be Europe’s most sustainable meat company. Achieving certification to ISO 50001 standard is a clear recognition of the company’s commitment coupled with the energy champions and site teams directly involved." 

Jim Gannon CEO Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) also commented: “In taking a structured approach to energy management, organisations like Dawn Meats have direct sight of what cost savings can be delivered. Approaching energy management through a certification process, visible to suppliers and customers alike, allows companies to enjoy enhanced recognition of their achievements, providing an even greater competitive advantage in the marketplace. I want to congratulate the whole team at Dawn Meats for achieving ISO 50001 certification."

Speaking at the presentation in Dublin Tara McCarthy CEO of Bord Bia said: “Every year verified Origin Green member companies like Dawn Meats, commit to ambitious sustainability targets. The achievement of ISO 50001 certification further validates Dawn Meats sustainability credentials and is clear recognition of a significant and embedded culture of continuous improvement in the company." 

Presenting the award Gerry Kelly, Finance Director of Certification Europe stated: "Dawn Meats have pushed the boundaries of energy management and put themselves amongst a very select group of organisations both in Ireland and across the world, that have achieved ISO 50001 Certification." 

Pictured (l-r): Jim Gannon (CEO, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland), Gerry Kelly (Finance Director Certification Europe), Niall Browne (CEO, Dawn Meats) and Tara McCarthy (CEO of Bord Bia) | Photo: Conor McCabe 

An Open Day at the Newford Suckler Demonstration Farm will take place on Wednesday, 5th September near Athenry, Co. Galway. All cattle farmers will have the opportunity to visit the farm and see at first hand the physical and financial performance of the farm over the last three years since it was set up. The project is a demonstration of best practice in suckler beef production with an emphasis on breeding, production data, measurement and management.

The 55 hectare farm was established by Dawn Meats and Teagasc in 2015 with additional support from McDonald’s and the Irish Farmers Journal. The 100-cow Newford herd is made up of first-cross Angus and Hereford cows from the dairy herd, bred to 5 star terminal sires  producing 21-23 months beef steers  at 310- 350 Kilograms carcase and  beef heifers 18- 20 months at 290-320 Kilograms carcase for the beef market. The target is to finish 70-80% of these progeny off grass.

Matthew Murphy, Farm Manager will be available along with representatives from Dawn Meats, Teagasc and Farmers Journal to meet and discuss the herd and its performance with farmers and answer questions on the day.

Speaking in advance of the upcoming Newford Open Day, Padraig French, head of livestock systems in Teagasc said: “the data gathered and the lessons learned from the herd’s performance last year will be shared with farmers on the day, to help them adopt some of the practices in their own farming enterprises,”

Paul Nolan, from Dawn Meats said: “that whilst delighted to share with our many visitors the impressive progress made at Newford to date in terms of breeding and stocking targets – more work on output challenges in terms of finishing weights and climatic fluctuation is our priority over the next 12-24 months.”

The event will also be attended by representatives of McDonald’s UK & Ireland as well as industry stakeholders including ICBF, Bord Bia, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Agri-Aware.

Fodder Advice for Farmers

2018 has been a challenging year for all livestock farmers due to the extreme weather events in the spring and then again in the summer, and the impact on grass and fodder production.

Advice on planning and managing feeding regimes for winter 2018 and spring 2019 will be available and Teagasc Advisors will be available to assist with fodder budgeting and planning.

Dawn Meats, which has operations in ten locations around Ireland, and many more across the UK and Europe, has been recognised with more than 20 stars at the prestigious Great Taste Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food. 

As the premium beef and lamb supplier of choice to a wide range of blue-chip food businesses in over 40 countries, Dawn was awarded three of the top ranked 3 Star awards for its:

  • West of Ireland 50-Day Dry aged French trimmed bone in Rib, described by the judging panel as “the Sunday joint of our dreams”
  • Borders Lamb Shoulder Joint of which the judging panel remarked “the depth of flavour is truly remarkable”
  • Caledonia Crown Aberdeen Angus matured marbled Standing Rib described by the judging panel as “simply beef at its best”. 

In 2018 over 500 judges assessed entries from March through to early July. 12,634 products were entered in 2018. 

Commenting on the awards, CEO of Dawn Meats, Niall Browne said, “Well done to our teams across Ireland and the UK who have outdone themselves this year, in their dedication to quality, taste and presentation. This recognition is a great result for the team and their collaboration with our farmer suppliers.” 

Great Taste, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, is the acknowledged benchmark for speciality food and drink. It has been described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world and the ‘epicurean equivalent of the Booker prize’. 


Dawn Meats CEO Niall Browne along with many of the CEOs of Ireland’s top companies have this week launched The Leaders’ Group on Sustainability which is a business coalition focussed on addressing some of the most urgent sustainability priorities for Ireland.

Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI), the national network for sustainability, has brought together 26 leading Irish companies, representing a workforce of over 90,000 people, to work collaboratively to address social, environmental and economic priorities.

Dawn Meats CEO Niall Browne stated “As a company Dawn Meats has always had sustainability at its core and formal sustainability targets have been in place since we launched our first sustainability plan in 2009.  We believe in the power of collective action and the leadership role that business can and must play in delivering a sustainable future for our employees, suppliers and customers.”  

One of the first actions announced by the Group is the Low Carbon Pledge – the first dedicated public commitment generated by Irish business to lead on the transition to a low carbon economy and reduce Scope 1 & 2 carbon emissions intensity by 50% by 2030.

The CEOs are calling on business leaders to make sustainability a central priority of their leadership and promote a low carbon vision across their operations, products and services to help Ireland achieve its international commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. 

The companies involved with the Leaders’ Group on Sustainability have all achieved BITCI’s Business Working Responsibly Mark, the NSAI audited standard for CSR and sustainability. 

Tomas Sercovich, CEO of Business in the Community Ireland, said, “The imperative set by the Sustainable Development Goals demonstrates the scale of the challenges we face. Business will play a critical role in the achievement of these goals and this can only be done through collective action. The US$ 12 trillion economic opportunity of the low carbon and inclusive economy needs to be embraced by Irish businesses. We must adopt a long term and beyond 2030 view of our business models. We are delighted to convene this unique platform for change in corporate Ireland and we will seek to influence the business community as well as policy in key areas”.

Mr Browne added “For many years Dawn Meats has worked collaboratively with Origin Green, Bord Bia, Teagasc, our customers and other stakeholders to deliver sustainability improvements within our sector, but what is really powerful about this coalition is the cross sectoral nature of the group, which will encourage all companies to make even greater progress.”  

In addition to addressing the transformation to a low carbon economy, The Leaders’ Group on Sustainability is also working together to remove barriers to social inclusion in Ireland by examining how Irish businesses can improve their processes and culture to train, attract and retain marginalised and vulnerable people. The Group has also identified the need for businesses to adapt to emerging work practices that will transform Irish industry like the gig economy, contract work and automation to ensure those changes benefit employee, employer and society as a whole.

The Leaders’ Group on Sustainability meets regularly to discuss best practice and to review progress on its stated aims. UCD is the knowledge partner for the Group and will provide ongoing research support to help develop and refine the sustainability goals.

Dawn Meats has been awarded the McDonald’s Global “Scale for Good” Award. This Global award is a first for McDonald’s and is the second occasion where Dawn Meats sustainability credentials have been recognised by the McDonald’s Global Leadership Team.

The award recognises the key leadership role that Dawn Meats has played over many years in programs which advance the cause of ethical, environmental and economic sustainability in European beef production. The award was presented to Dawn Meats CEO, Niall Browne, Group Commercial Director, Richard Clinton & Food Safety and Quality Director, Brian Hyland by McDonald’s Corporate Executive Vice President Francesca DeBiase and Vice President Keith Kenny with the senior leadership team of the Global Supply Chain and Sustainability team in attendance.

Scale for Good is McDonald’s strategy to leverage its global reach with millions of customers, employees, franchisees, suppliers and other partners to take collaborative action on some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges in the world today. 

McDonald’s is the first restaurant company in the world to address global climate change by setting a Science Based Target to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To reach this target, McDonald’s will partner with franchisees and suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to McDonald’s restaurants and offices by 36 percent by 2030 from a 2015 base year. Additionally, McDonald’s commits to a 31 percent reduction in emissions intensity (per metric ton of food and packaging) across its supply chain by 2030 from 2015 levels. This combined target has been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

Niall Browne CEO Dawn Meats said: “We are delighted and honoured to accept this award on behalf of all the team at Dawn Meats. As a business we have recognised for some time that doing the right thing and using our scale for good will build a more robust business for the future, for the benefit of our employees, customers and farmers. Our CSR strategy is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and in McDonald’s we have a true partner who is equally committed to furthering the achievement of these Goals. We look forward to continuing our progress in the coming years.” 

Keith Kenny Vice President Sustainability at McDonald’s commented: “Improving the sustainability of how beef is produced for McDonald's is a key part of our Scale for Good strategy. Dawn Meats, champion sustainable beef production, both through their actions and ambitions within their own supply chain and in their industry leadership, working with external bodies to define and develop sustainable farming techniques.”

Dawn Meats proudly sponsored this year's Galway Food Festival which was held over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend from Thursday 29th March to Monday 2nd April 2018.

The festival now in its seventh year celebrates the city and county's culinary landscape, showcasing the people, produce, and passion that have firmly established Galway as the food capital of the west.

We were delighted with the response and engagement we had from festival goers who enjoyed the beef and lamb cooking demonstrations presented by the talented JJ Healy. 

JJ created six fantastic dishes that featured Dawn Meats premium quality beef and lamb, to provide festival goers with inspiration for cooking delicious beef and lamb recipes at home. Recipes included:

  • Roast Loin and Rack of Lamb, Gratin Potato, Honey and Herb Glazed Vegetables
  • Mini Lamb Burgers in Brioche Buns Topped with a Rhubarb Chutney
  • Grilled Spiced Lamb Sausages on a Skewer with a Mint and Chive Yoghurt
  • Beef Wellington, Grilled Asparagus, Beef Dripping Potatoes and Béarnaise Sauce
  • Chilli Con Carne with Pilaff Rice
  • Beef Lollipops Glazed with Sweet Soya Sauce, Garlic, Chilli and Ginger

Click the link below to view the full recipe booklet from the event.

Page 1 of 11