LABOUR SAVINGS could be made by suckler herds by using genetics to eliminate calving problems and making calf disbudding unnecessary, believes beef consultant Basil Lowman.

He told Hybu Cig Cymru’s winter conference at Aberystwyth that Welsh producers had a great future. But they must improve cost-effectiveness, produce quality beef and exploit what made it different. “Talk to other producers, exchange ideas and build up trust. Start small and sell something special,” said Mr Lowman.

But there was also scope to reduce some costs. “At SAC it takes two workers 12 minutes to disbud a calf, so with 200 cows, four-and-a-half days are wasted every year. Producers should, therefore, use homozygous polled bulls, but check their estimated breeding values.”