Cattle farmers in the South West and North Yorkshire are being encouraged to get involved in a major feed efficiency industry project taking place in both regions.
The four-year Defra and AHDB-funded Beef Feed Efficiency Programme aims to demonstrate how feed efficiency traits can be measured and selected for in beef cattle, illustrating how the most efficient cattle will eat less than others but grow at the same rate. This will provide significant opportunities to cut the cost of production across the industry.
Andy Foot from near Dorchester and Sam Webster, near to Bedale are two commercial farmers who have a recording unit on their farms. The project team is looking to purchase Limousin or Limousin-cross steers to take part in the programme. Farmers who supply cattle have the option to receive useful feedback on how their individual animals have performed, in addition to supporting an important industry initiative.
Andy said: “I understand how important feed costs are in producing quality beef, so I can see great potential for this project to help the industry become more efficient.
“We have had one batch of cattle through the unit so far and we are looking for more Limousin cattle to take part. By getting involved you could be making a real contribution to the future sustainability of the UK beef industry and will have unique access to data that will be of direct benefit to your business.”
Suitable cattle should be in groups of four to 16 and be sired by a Limousin bull which has either previously been registered or is currently registered, or an artificial insemination Limousin sire. They can either be two to four weeks of age, or be weaned and aged up to eight months old. Market prices will be paid for any selected cattle.
Specialised equipment has been installed at both farms to record individual feed intake and performance of growing beef cattle for the next two years. Cattle will be monitored over a 63-day test period, during which time liveweight gain and fat depth will also be recorded.
There is capacity on the unit to finish the cattle once they have been through the recording system, which means valuable carcase data can also be collected. The data gathered will be used to generate tools that will drive forward the genetic selection of cattle for feed use efficiency.
While the initial focus will be on recording Limousin-sired cattle, the aim is to develop a system for recording feed efficiency that can be extended to other cattle breeds in the future.
If you have suitable cattle and would like further information, please call Natalie Cormack on 07866 934563 or email email@example.com. Or visit the Beef Feed Efficiency programme area of the website.