Beef industry urged to be more efficient

The beef industry ought to follow in the footsteps of the pig and poultry sectors when it comes to efficiency, according to the Agri-Food Biosciences Institute’s (AFBI) Dr Francis Lively. 

As senior beef researcher with AFBI, Lively is set to be one of six speakers at the Pedigree Calf Fair @ Beef NI Expo, taking place on 14 November.

He is expected to use this platform to discuss AFBI’s beef research and development programme, in accordance with the event’s theme of Beef Strategy 2020, to develop a more sustainable and profitable industry via improved production efficiency at the farmgate.

“Northern Ireland’s pedigree beef producers have a sound track record of producing high-quality breeding animals,” commented Lively. “However, industry data obtained from the AFBI-designed Bovine Information System (BoyIS) clearly indicates there is a huge variation in the performance of beef cattle produced and finished in Northern Ireland, with low lifetime performance being a major problem on many farms.”

He highlighted that AFBI’s research hypothesised that the management of cattle genetics, nutrition and health was vital in making the most out of animal performance in a cost-effective manner.

“Our vision for 2020 is that beef producers adopt management systems that consistently produce cattle with carcase attributes that fully meet market specifications. AFBI research and services will be vital in achieving this strategy.”

Also speaking will be event sponsor Paul Elwood, of HVS Animal Health in Downpatrick. He said: “The suckler cow produces one calf per year, so it is important that her calving interval is as close to 365 days as possible.

“It is also critical, from a performance point of view, that the calf gets the best possible start. Making sure that animals receive the correct balance of minerals and trace elements at those important times of the year is vital.”

Elwood recognised that it was the dry period and the run-up to the breeding season that was the most critical time of year for cattle to receive this correct balance of minerals. He said that calves would also need “an effective mineral boost pre-weaning and pre-housing”.

He concluded: “I will be using the upcoming seminars to outline how our Liquid Gold chelated mineral range is playing a key role in making these targets achievable on an increasing number of local beef farms.”

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