Ingredients for success

21 September 2001

Ingredients for success

SELECTING the right stocking rate and following good grassland management are essential ingredients for successful organic beef production.

About 10% of the ADAS Pwllpeiran unit started organic conversion in 1993, said ADAS Richard Collyer at Beef 2001. This includes an April-calving purebred Welsh Black suckler herd.

"Stocking density had to be reduced to 0.3 livestock units/ha, 65% of the conventional unit. By how much stocking density has to reduce when going organic depends on the ability to produce feed. Grassland on the Pwllpeiran unit accounts for 95% of cattles annual feed intake."

In addition, reduced stocking rates lower disease risk, such as worms, which is crucial as routine vet medicines are not permitted under organic rules.

However, Mr Collyer believes there are few technical barriers to grass and clover-based organic beef production, although sheep should also be run to aid grassland management.

"Organic beef is currently an attractive enterprise, with 3R graded carcasses fetching 260p/kg." This is reflected by 1998/99 gross margins for Pwllpeirans organic unit being £52/ha more than the conventional unit. These margins also include environmentally sensitive area payments, he adds.

But organic farming is not for everyone and is not the universal answer for the lack of profitability in the beef sector, he warns. "The shortfall in UK organic beef supply will not continue with the price difference narrowing." &#42

See more