British Cattle Breeders outline conference details

Dates have been announced for the British Cattle Breeders’ Club (BCBC) annual conference, which will be held this year at the Telford Hotel and Golf Resort on in Shropshire from 21-23 January.

The conference will host speakers from around the world, who will give presentations alongside some of the UK’s most forward-thinking beef and dairy cattle producers.

According to the BCBC, the conference will be chaired by Philip Halhead, a Lancashire dairy farmer who also runs Norbreck Genetics, a supplier of cattle semen, embryos and livestock. Norbreck also operates a test centre for Belgian and British Blue AI sires.

Halhead explained that profitability would be the main focus of the conference this year and was a theme that would “prevail throughout the two-and-a-half-day event”. He said: “We have tried to provide something for everyone; one of our speakers will be explaining how dairy farmers can manipulate diets, to produce milk with fatty acids aimed at improving human health, while another will question whether the pedigree sector is failing the commercial beef producer. We will also hold an ‘Any Questions’ session, where a panel of industry leaders will give their response to questions put to them by delegates.

“Cutbacks in agricultural research and increasing business pressures, caused by high input costs and poor returns on beef and dairy herds, make it more important than ever to provide a forum for the discussion and presentation of new ideas.

“I also feel that, as cattle breeders, we all have a common cause, which is to encourage consumers to buy as much home-produced, high-quality food as possible. That means we need to work together and pool information, to ensure that our industry has strong foundations for the future.
“The British Cattle Conference is also a social occasion, giving delegates the chance to catch up with each other and exchange their opinions on the issues covered during the programme.”

Speakers will also discuss a “craze” that has become popular in the US, called the “primal diet”, which instructs those taking part to eat unprocessed foods, as well as more beef.

Halhead added that the diet had already reached the shores of the UK and that a talk about it would be given by Julia Glotz of The Grocer magazine, which is a sister title of Meat Trades Journal and Glotz is to discuss the potential influence the diet will have on demand for beef in this country.

She said: “For the beef industry, the growing interest in paleo or primal eating is significant for two reasons: it could, of course, stimulate demand for beef, but – more importantly – it is likely to flush out arguments about red meat and health once more. Whether the upshot of this will be positive or negative remains to be seen, but if paleo does indeed turn out to be one of the food crazes of 2013, the industry will need to be very clear on where it stands regarding high-protein diets and be prepared to make the case for the health benefits of red meat as part of a healthy, balanced diet once again.”

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