8 March 2002

Scots Simmentals perform for profit

PUREBRED Simmental beef production is profitable within a 18-month system, with steers increasing in value by more than 80p a day, according to recent Scottish research.

Speaking at a breed society meeting at Oatridge Agricultural College, Edinburgh, farm co-ordinator Peter Scott stressed that calculating the cost of producing each kg of beef is crucial as margins become tighter.

This prompted a 10-year project British Simmental Society funded project at the college. A herd of 40 autumn-calving Simmental cows was established to examine the costs of producing quality beef on an 18-month system, said Mr Scott.

"Animals finished last winter achieved daily gains of 1.2kg until they were weaned in late April. This cost 15p a day."

"After weaning, calves were put on clean grazing at a stocking rate of 7/ha, while cows were tightly stocked on permanent pasture. Creep feed was offered for two months before housing as grass quality declined."

Steers continued to gain more than 1kg a day at grass and heifers grew slower at 0.83kg a day. The cost for both steers and heifers was 37p/kg.

Finished animals were slaughtered at Scotbeefs Bridge of Allan plant. Yields of saleable meat were between 72-73% with 85% of steers grading U4L and heifers being R or U. Scotbeef procurement manager Murray Hardy said one way to improve beef returns is to produce a quality carcass similar to those in the project.

Mr Scott believes calving heifers at 24 months, instead of 36 months is a key factor in maintaining profitability. "This saves about £100 a head as being a closed, block calving herd means they could not calve for another 12 months."

In addition, first calf heifers need more attention than cows as they are still growing, producing milk and trying to get back in calf. They are placed in a separate group when housed and fed an additional 1-1.5kg a day of concentrates with grass silage, added Mr Scott. &#42

Simmental beef performance

Steers Heifers

Carcass weight (kg) 327 301

Return (£ a head) 590 525

Daily gain from birth (kg) 1.20 1.16