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Dairy and Beef

Leader: Richard Dewhurst

The Dairy and Beef Transition Network is focused on the development of the use of grain and forage legumes in production systems for dairy and beef. It is composed of four actor groups:


·        Bulgarian Legume Network

·        Irish Grain Legumes Group

·        SRUC Dairy Protein Group

·        German Pea and Bean Network

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Consumers are increasingly interested in the traceability of feed and in supporting value chains based on local resources and local sources of feed and reduced environmental footprints. Locally-grown legumes can make a significant contribution. The limited availability of sufficient and reliable locally-grown protein for dairy and beef cattle is a large and growing challenge for producers across Europe. Reliance on imported protein is a fundamental challenge to the sustainability and acceptance of dairy and beef production systems.


This network is examining the case for achieving greater security in the supply of protein feedstuffs in dairy and beef production through the increased use of European grain and forage legumes. The network is organizing email discussions, seminars (face-to-face; currently webinars) to review relevant literature on legume agronomy, protein nutrition and alternative protein sources for cattle, as well as visits to key sites  running legume agronomy and feeding demonstrations. These sites also provide a basis for practice notes and videos supporting stakeholders in key decisions about production and utilisation of grain and forage legumes.


The network’s ultimate goal is to support the increased use of European-grown legume grains and forage legumes in European dairy and beef production. It aims to achieve this partly by providing knowledge outputs that support this increased use, but also through dialogue with key actors in the animal feed and feed evaluation industries to discuss the potential to use grain legumes in ruminant diets; achieve a balanced mix of protein sources in feeds; and promote the use of legumes in nutrition models and rationing software. The Dairy and Beef, Poultry and Pigmeat networks are working together on compiling knowledge on feed economics.

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