NBA Beef Expo puts the spotlight on dairy-produced beef

The National Beef Association's Beef Expo at Hexham this week will look at better beef production from the dairy herd

Robert Smith Doreen and John Hunter, their son Andrew Hunter and his wife Caroline Hunter with their children
Doreen and John Hunter, their son Andrew Hunter and his wife Caroline Hunter with their children

Better beef production from the dairy herd for the benefit of both farmers and the industry as a whole will come under the spotlight at this year’s NBA Beef Expo.

The beef sector showcase, at Hexham Mart on Thursday, will be focusing on this key industry issue with demonstrations and knowledge-sharing throughout the day.

Beef Expo’s theme this year is British Beef feeding our nation, and the role of dairy herd-produced beef is becoming ever-more important to this.

The aim of the Beef from the Dairy Herd showcase is to demonstrate the scope and a role that dairy bred livestock plays.

This display will include livestock from R Ridley & Sons of Mickley Moore Farm, near Prudhoe, Northumberland, whose dairy herd provides a sound base for the suckler cow herd.

Improving beef production adds up to better returns for dairy farmers.

Although farmers tend to focus on replacing cows, a beef bull calf out of a dairy cow can actually make more financial sense, adding an estimated 2p per litre to the dairy profits.

NBA chief executive Chris Mallon said: “Today’s technology makes it possible to be selective to achieve the best possible results from your breeding, and therefore the best financial results for your enterprise.

“You can select the cows you want to produce dairy cows from and use sexed semen on them.

“By using beef bull semen on the others to produce a high-quality beef animal, you will end up with an animal worth maybe £150 more than a dairy bull calf.

“And by finishing the culled cows properly it will increase the returns by maybe £60-£80 per head, while also helping to produce meat for the British processing sector.”

In addition to making financial sense for individual farmers, producing beef from the dairy herd is becoming increasingly important to the entire British Beef industry. More than half of Britain’s beef now comes from the dairy sector, which is helping to shore up the ongoing decline in the suckler herd.

Chris added: “Dairy herd-produced beef is widely forecast to play an ever-stronger role in maintaining the critical mass necessary for the British Beef industry to exist.

“Without sufficient animals in the system, abattoirs will be forced to close, meaning animals will have to travel for longer, and jobs will be lost. It is a big issue for the industry, which is why we are devoting such a major part of this year’s NBA Beef Expo to beef from the dairy herd.”

As part of this dedicated focus XLVets will be on hand to provide visitors with advice for managing the health of dairy beef calves from birth through to finishing.

The Eblex Beef from the Dairy Herd area will have information for producers on breeding, health, feeding, EID and performance of crossbred cattle.

The selection area will be displaying a life-size carcase ‘cool wall’ which shows both a range of conformation and fat class.  

The demonstration area will also explore the different specialist systems for rearing different dairy-produced beef calves, including rose veal, pure dairy or bull beef-produced calves, and how they should each be finished.

“Although the suckler and the pure beef are the ideal, the British beef sector needs the dairy input for the British beef industry to be successful,” said Chris.

“Unfortunately, many dairy bull calves end up being killed on-farm and not making it into the food chain, because finishers of dairy type cattle have to face difficult payment grids and stiff price penalties.

“But for the British Beef sector to survive, and indeed to thrive, we need dairy-produced beef. Hopefully, our demonstration area at Beef Expo will provide farmers with food for thought and encourage more dairy herds to support the beef industry.”

NBA Beef Expo takes place over two days at Hexham Mart on May 21 and 22, and incorporates the major National Spring Spectacular Show, breed society exhibitions and trade stands.

It will also feature tours of Northumberland farms – Willie Woodman’s operation at Great Chesters, Haltwhistle, which is stocked with mainly Limousin crosses and the Hunter family’s enterprise at The Steel, West Woodburn, which also has Limousin cross sucklers.

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