Livestock industry body EBLEX has today (2 June) unveiled its Beef Better Returns Programme (BBRP) – a three-year project aimed at promoting better knowledge, better practice and better returns.

Building on the success of the Sheep Better Returns Programme, the £1.2m DEFRA-funded initiative is aiming to move 10% of English beef producers from the “average” performance level to the “top third”, at an annual benefit to the industry of £23.5m.

“The programme will identify key areas which can make a real impact on production, develop tools to deliver technical information and encourage uptake of best practice through an innovative and comprehensive knowledge transfer programme,” said EBLEX industry development manager Chris Lloyd.

Mirroring the sheep programme, BBRP will use practical, hands-on demonstrations.

It will concentrate on five delivery themes; better breeding, better fertility and health, better feeding, better selection and better systems and costings.

“These are seen as the crucial areas that need addressing and each will be adapted to suit the four main segments of beef production – suckler cows, suckler finishing, dairy bull finishing and beef cross dairy finishing.”

Mr Lloyd said there were many opportunities, but producers needed to reconnect with processors to understand exactly what each market wants, particularly in relation to exports.

“The market has changed in the last 10 years and farmers need to appreciate this.

For example, southern Europe is looking for dairy bulls, but the northern European market is more focused on cull cows.”

Equally important will be assessing beef enterprise costs and comparing them with other, similar units to see where savings or production improvements can be made.

“This will hopefully lead to other technical messages which producers can implement, such as improving calving index.”

jonathan.long@rbi.co.uk