EBLEX urges producers to get involved in better returns

The EBLEX Beef Better Returns Programme (BRP) is asking 3,000 English beef producers to help shape the content and delivery of the project over the next two years.

During April, a cross section of producers will receive a detailed questionnaire from the University of Reading.

The aim of the survey is to influence the continued development of the Beef BRP to ensure that it meets the needs of English beef farmers.

It will also serve as a benchmark against which to measure the success of the programme in the future. At the end of the project there will be a second survey to see how attitudes and practices have changed.

Netta de la Cour, EBLEX beef BRP project manager, said: "The strength of the beef BRP is that it is designed and driven by the industry.

"We have a steering group drawn from all parts of the English beef industry, and by asking 3,000 beef farmers to help by completing this survey we are hoping to get a real front-line feel for what they want."

The cross section of English beef producers will receive one of three surveys, each focusing on different areas of the Beef BRP.

The survey on feeding and nutrition asks farmers about their current practices and attitudes to assessing the nutritional value of their feed and adjusting rations according to feed content and the development stage of individual animals.

The survey on selection asks farmers how much they think about a target market for their beef, whether they weigh and handle cattle to assess readiness for sale and to what extent they refer to the MLC carcase classification scale (EUROP grid) to select animals.

Finally the breeding and fertility survey focuses on the use of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) among beef farmers, asking whether they use them when choosing a bull and believe that they can lead to better returns. It also asks about checking fertility, maintaining herd health plans and sources of advice when buying a bull.

All three surveys ask questions about benchmarking, budgeting and cost analysis.

"The Beef Better Returns Programme encourages producers to learn new ways of working to help them cut costs, eliminate waste, and improve their bottom line," de la Cour said.

"If 10% of producers moved from average to top third performance, this could provide a potential return to the industry of around £25m," she added.

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