British beef farmers believe more integration in the beef supply chain is needed to drive a sustainable and profitable future.
During a round table discussion with nine winners and finalists of the Farmers Weekly and McDonald’s Beef Farmer of the Year award in Scunthorpe last week, all of the farmers agreed more needed to be done to mimic integrated practices adhered to within the pig and poultry sector.
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Beef farmer James Evans explained how beef production in the rest of the world was much more integrated, referring to dedicated breeding and finishing lots in the US.
“In America, cattle are killed by 18 months old. In this country, animals are a lot older. There’s no reason why any animal should be alive after 18 months old. It is wasted time and money,” he said.
Billy O’Kane also believed it would be better to have good breeders feeding into one dedicated finishing unit.
“Better finishing would lead to a shorter life of an animal and reduce the carbon footprint.”
Other priorities the farmers identified that needed to be tackled to improve the sustainability of the sector were:
- Reviewing the Europ Grid – with all agreeing it was not fit for purpose
- Benchmarking performance
- Improving grassland, soil and manure management
- Eradicating BVD