Beef suckler calves feeding

Ladies in Beef is calling for the industry to back its latest campaign to help halt the decline in suckler beef breeding herd numbers, which are at their lowest since the late 1980s.

The beef herd has fallen by more than 230,000 in the past decade and 140,000 in the past four years, currently levelling at 1.57 million animals, according to AHDB figures.

See also: Four steps to ensure suckler cow profitability

According to Ladies in Beef, a coalition of 150 female beef farmers, this is being driven by an increase in dairy beef, with 52% of beef now produced from dairy herds.

Consumer campaign

Hoping to counter the decline, Ladies in Beef has called on farmers, livestock markets, abattoirs, processors, retailers, butchers, farm shops and the food service and hospitality sectors, to support its new consumer campaign, Great British Nurtured by Nature.

Ladies in Beef plans to launch the initiative – an off-shoot of its Save Our Sucklers industry campaign – ahead of Great British Beef Week (23 April-2 May).

The campaign will highlight the “natural production system of grass, milk, nurturing beef breeds and glorious countryside” behind suckler beef, said Mrs Greed.

“We don’t shout about it, we don’t champion it. There are other European countries that realise these breeding herds need support to continue as the margins are just not there.

“We have to champion it ourselves. No one else will do it for us,” Mrs Greed added.

The organisation also hopes to see “differentiated, branded” suckler beef products on UK shelves in 2016.

“Get the branding right and we could see a resurgence in suckler beef production in the UK and profitable returns,” said Minette Batters, Ladies in Beef co-founder and NFU deputy president.