Welsh beef farmers advised on profitability opportunities

Beef producers in Wales are being advised on methods to improve the performance of their herds. 

A number of farm-level changes and substitutions that could result in increased production and profitability have been highlighted in the latest Market Bulletin from Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), using data released by the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS).

Strategies to increase production and profitability include: revised calving intervals; calving heifers as early as possible; avoiding difficult calving when selecting bulls and calving heifers; cow longevity; and meeting market and processor requirements.

According to HCC, average calving intervals for beef cows on holdings in Wales and England stood at 428 and 424 days respectively in 2015.

“A long calving interval can cause multiple herd management problems and impact on the profitability of a beef enterprise,” said HCC industry information executive John Richards. “Beef farmers are encouraged to reduce calving intervals and aim for shorter calving periods and easier cow and calf management.

“Beef producer prices have come under increasing pressure over the last six months, with many farmers looking at the viability of their enterprise. We are starting to see a slight uplift in price, driven by reduced imports, but we are still off target.”

He added: “Producers are therefore advised to contact their proposed market to ensure they meet their requirements.”

Data from BCMS for last year also indicated that the average age of first-time calvers in Wales was 1,022 days (33 months) – five days more than in England.

Figures suggest that the average age of death for beef dams on Welsh farms was nine years old, producing an average of five-and-a-half calves in their lifetime. These cows could have produced another calf in some instances. Therefore, HCC recommend that producers look to calf their heifers as early as possible to increase calf production and herd profitability.

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