Winners of this year’s Fantasy Farming League was the “Young Ones” team of Peter Chantry from Goole, James Broadwith from Bedale and Rob Middleton from Masham, near Ripon, who achieved a profit of £1051.50 for their eight bulls.
The team’s winning performance – based on their mixed pen of Brown Swiss, Montbeliarde, British Friesian and Holstein bulls – showed their cattle had an average slaughter age of 269 days at an average weight of 307kg. The bulls sold for an average 249p/kg. The average total cost of producing each bull was £600.64 and the average return was £750.86. Their pen contained the highest weight-gain animal at 1.91kg a day.
The winners used two rations: From January to March the bulls were fed a mix of rolled barley (78%), rape meal (13%), sugar beet pellets (5.3%), molasses (1.3%), minerals (1.6%) plus 0.8kg of limestone flour. The ration from April to September was rolled barley (84%), rape meal (6%), sugar beet pellets (5.3%), molasses (1.3%), minerals (1.6%) plus 0.8kg of limestone flour. Ad-lib wheat straw was available throughout the finishing period.
The Fantasy Farming Beef League comprised 10 teams, each managing a pen of dairy bull calves. The teams of three, each made up of two beef farmers and one dairy farmer, were given eight calves to manage from twelve weeks old to finishing.
The calves were kept at Askham Bryan College and monthly meetings were held throughout the finishing period involving advisors and nutritionists.
Steve Powdrill, EBLEX national selection specialist, said this year’s competition had shown the need to target dairy-bred bulls in Fat Class 3. “Deductions for cattle in Fat Class 2 and 4H were between 12-16p/kg compared with those in Fat Class 3 or 4L – that is about £42 a head.
“We have to ask ‘Does weight pay?’ When we evaluate bull performance data from this year’s competition we see interesting trends.
“In the past six weeks of finishing the cattle that achieved Fat Class 3 gained an average of 34kg. The cattle that achieved a Fat Class 4L gained 29kg, while those in Fat Class 4H only gained 12kg – clear proof that weight does not pay when it’s putting on fat, not lean meat.”
Further articles from the Askham Bryan beef producers meeting: