16 February 1996



WHEN marketing dairy-bred beef, it is vital to keep the fat level to an absolute minimum.

This is the view of beef producer Don Wilkinson who farms 121ha (300 acres) near Darlington, Co Durham, and currently records prices of about 210p/kg at 0- and fat class 3.

He believes that many dairy producers fail to pay close enough attention to beef production and marketing.

"Eating quality of Holstein beef is similar to many other breeds," says Mr Wilkinson, who will be speaking at Beef 96 (see panel above).

"However, as the price mechanism is governed in part by conformation, Holstein animals which have a smaller eye muscle, rump and loins than the Continental breeds are penalised.

"Because of this, a small depth of fat forms a greater proportion of the saleable meat and is, therefore, more important than the final weight of the animal," he says.

So when marketed from 13-and-a-half-months-old and in conformation class O- Mr Wilkinson ensures that beef animals do not exceed fat class 3.

He has also carefully chosen the outlet for his beef, selecting an abattoir within half an hour of the farm.

Minimising journey times cuts stress pre slaughter which according to the MLC, improves eating quality of the meat.

"We sell straight from the farm to reduce handling and hence stress. And have satisfied ourselves that the abattoir has high standards of handling," says Mr Wilkinson.

He has also chosen an abattoir which pays a relatively high price for beef with yellow fat, the result of beef finished on a silage based diet. &#42

Programme A

11:30am Beef system choice

Producing Holstein beef to


Breeding for bigger margins

12:30pm Linking the food chain

What can I pay?

1:30pm A blueprint for beef

Why is tough meat tough

Beef promotion

2:30pm Where are we now with


Future prospects

Programme B

12:00pm Designer beef

Pasture management

and silage feeding

1:00pm BSE: an update

2:00pm Getting the calf right

Calf health

3:00pm Marketing options

Farm assurance

Don Wilkinson: "A small depth of fat forms a greater proportion of the saleable meat and is more important than the animals final weight."