Evaluating the Performance, Health and Welfare of Beef Cattle on a Range of Larger Finishing Units in England

Project No:                    61110006

Lead contractor:         Westpoint Veterinary Group

Other contractors:     Scottish Rural University College

Start & end date:         01 January 2016 – 31 December 2018

 

The Problem:

The beef finishing enterprise is an evolving sector of the commercial farming scene with units generally increasing in size and employing a range of production systems across different parts of the UK.  To date, there has been little research conducted to compare finishing systems and investigate the impact that the type of finishing unit has on the performance, health and welfare of cattle.

 

Aims and Objectives:

The overall aim of the proposed project is to provide an evidence base for beef finishing systems in England, identify innovations and best practices for cattle health, welfare and performance, and disseminate information to the end users. This will be achieved by the completion of four distinct objectives:

Objective 1 – to identify factors influencing cattle and enterprise performance by undertaking a review of the published scientific literature in the area of beef cattle finishing.

Objective 2 – to understand current practices in beef finishing systems by undertaking a survey of larger English beef finishers.

Objective 3 – to undertake controlled, scientifically robust studies on a range of larger finishing units, to quantify the impact of key variables identified under Objectives 1 and 2.

Objective 4 – to engage with the beef supply chain and AHDB Beef and Lamb to disseminate the findings of the project to the end users, through knowledge transfer events and the publication of resources.

 

Approach:

The project will be conducted over a 36-month period, and the project’s overall aim and objectives will be achieved by the completion of four work packages:

WP 1 – Review of Scientific Literature This will identify factors influencing cattle and enterprise performance, health and welfare by undertaking a review of the published scientific literature in the area of beef cattle finishing.

WP 2 – Survey of current practice in beef finishing systems in England A survey of English finishing systems will be undertaken to understand current practices in beef finishing systems

WP 3 – Evaluation of key variables in field trials Controlled and scientifically robust field studies will be under taken on a range of finishing units, to quantify the impact of key variables identified under Objectives 1 and 2.

WP 4 – Dissemination of information The project team, in collaboration with AHDB B&L will engage with the beef supply chain to disseminate the findings of the project to the end users, through knowledge transfer events and the publication of resources.