Beef farmers may be enjoying the highest prices for a generation, with store cattle selling at previously unseen levels and breeding stock breaking sale records across the country, but that doesn’t mean more can’t be done to boost farm output and income.
With that in mind every UK beef farmer could benefit from a trip to the industry’s annual showcase, Beef Expo. Beef exports, bovine TB and improving farm performance will all be on the agenda for visitors to this year’s event, at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire, on Thursday 21 May.
With much of the high beef price being derived from exports resulting from the weakness of sterling, particularly against the euro, it is timely that attendees at the pre-event conference will be able to hear from EBLEX international manager Peter Hardwick, says conference chairman John Uffold of McCartneys auctioneers.
Joining Mr Hardwick in the line-up will be chief vet for Wales Christianne Glossop, who will outline the Welsh Assembly’s plans for a TB eradication programme in Wales and how the Welsh Assembly government plans to tackle the disease in both cattle and wildlife species.
The third and final speaker will be an as-yet unnamed representative of DEFRA, who will explain the government’s controversial responsibility and cost-sharing proposals for tackling exotic animal diseases.
Preceeding the conference will be the event’s farm tours, which will see delegates visit three diverse beef farms in Herefordshire.
First up will be John Price, The Day House Farm, Kingsland, Leominster, Herefordshire. Mr Price runs a big beef finishing enterprise based on the purchase of stores at local markets.
About 700 Continental cross heifers and steers are finished either at grass or over the winter on a total mixed ration of silage, wheat straw, protein blend and minerals. Manure from the cattle helps reduce the fertiliser bill for the extensive arable enterprise, which comprises 566ha (1400 acres) of cereals, 121ha (300 acres) oilseed rape and 263ha (650 acres) of ware potatoes for the packing market. Visitors will also have the chance to see the farm’s extensive potato grading facility and refrigerated storage.
The second visit will be to John and Thomas Walker’s Tedney House, Clifton upon Teme, Herefordshire, where the brothers run an organic farm extending to 368ha (910 acres), comprising 80ha (200 acres) of arable, 20ha (50 acres) hops, 90ha (225 acres) leys, 111ha (275 acres) permanent pasture, 20ha (50 acres) grazing orchard and 44ha (110 acres) of woodland.
Stocking comprises 116 mostly pedigree Hereford cows, with all progeny – except replacement heifers and a few bulls sold privately for breeding – finished at about 18 months of age and sold to Dovecote Park. The aim is low-cost production based on grass and high dry matter silage and premium prices for finished cattle, which, with the organic premium, have recently been making up to £3.40/kg deadweight.
The last of the three farms featured will be Paul Dawes’, Dinmore Manor Estate, Kipperknowle Farm, Dinmore Manor, Hereford, which is home to the 50-cow Dinmore herd of pedigree Limousin cattle. Since its formation eight years ago the herd has made its mark in the breed with the purchase of females from Peasleyhill, Wintercott and other top herds.
Progeny of stock bull Wilodge Tonka have sold for 50,000gns, 42,000gns and 28,000gns at Carlisle and his offspring also won the best progeny award last year at the Royal Show.
The home-bred cow, Dinmore Athena, is unbeaten in 13 outings, including female champion at the Royal Welsh Show, while ET progeny of Fleethill Sal, winner of four inter-breed championships, have sold for up to 28,000gns. The herd takes its name from the beautiful Dinmore Estate, which is a mixed-farming unit comprising 283ha (700 acres) of crops, 242ha (600 acres) grass and 303ha (750 acre) of woodland.
These are three excellent farms, which will enable visitors to view all aspects of the beef industry from leading pedigree stock through to the end product, finishing cattle, says Beef Expo 2009 chairman Clive Roads.
Continuing the quality cattle theme through to the event will be two big beef cattle shows and a cattle presentation competition for youngsters.
The National Spring Spectacular Show will be open to both Continental and native-breed pure and crossbred steers and heifers with a total prize fund of £4700.
Championship awards will include a top prize of £500 for the champion, £250 for the reserve and £200 each for the baby beef, steer, heifer and exhibitor-bred championships. The champion, if home-bred, stands to pick up £1000 in championship and class prize money.
The show of pedigree calves, designed to demonstrate the top genetics in the national beef breeding herd, will offer separate classes for native breed and Continental bull and heifer calves.
The cattle presentation competition, open to youngsters aged 14-20 years, will be based on points gained for cattle-dressing ability, showmanship skills and general knowledge of cattle husbandry.
These new events are being organised by a committee under the chairmanship of Clive Davies. “We believe these events will provide an added attraction to Beef Expo and we look forward to a large entry in all three sections,” said Mr Davies.
Judge of the Spectacular will be leading Anglesey beef farmer and showman Arfon Jones, Ty Calch, Paradwys, Bodorgan, Anglesey, a former winner of the championship and a former judge at the Royal Smithfield Show.
The pedigree calf classes will be judged by well-known Charolais, Welsh Black and commercial cattle breeder, John Owens, Shobdon, Leominster, Hereford, and the cattle presentation competition by expert stockman Peter Bodily, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.
Practical demonstrations and seminars
Practical demonstrations will be a feature of this year’s event
In addition to these new features the event will include a range of practical demonstrations of livestock equipment, including cattle handling systems, feeder wagons, telescopic handlers, straw chopping and bedding machines and mill and mix machines.
A continuing programme of seminars will also take place throughout the day, linked to the themed demonstration area. Other features will include open and young farmers’ stockjudging, a competition for auctioneers and the selection of the National Farm Shop Butcher of the Year and Young Beef Ambassador of the Year.
Event Information Beef Expo 2009 takes place on 21 May at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire. Entry to the event costs £10, while a place on the pre-event farm tours costs £14 and admittance to the pre-event conference costs £5.75. To book tickets for either the event, the farm tours or the pre-event conference contact the organisers 01430 441 870 or email email@example.com or see www.beefexpo.co.uk.
Beef Expo 2009 takes place on 21 May at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire. Entry to the event costs £10, while a place on the pre-event farm tours costs £14 and admittance to the pre-event conference costs £5.75. To book tickets for either the event, the farm tours or the pre-event conference contact the organisers 01430 441 870 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.beefexpo.co.uk.