UK – Cattle are being kept too long on many of Britain’s beef farms at the expense of farmers’ pockets and the environment.
Typical Weights tend to ‘flat line’ after 18 months with many animals being kept on far beyond this point, a Royal Agricultural Society of England beef technology seminar heard this month.
Dr Kirsty Moore of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) said that almost two lots of cattle could be kept during the period required to currently finish one batch on some of Britain’s farms.
Highlighting greenhouse gas emissions as an impact of inefficient beef production, she said major progress is on the horizon for productivity in the beef industry through beef genomics.
The findings came from slaughter data taken for genomics studies being undertaken to develop genomic indicators and estimated breeding values.
Describing the present as an ‘exciting time’ for beef genetics research, Dr Moore added: “There have been no major developments in the beef sector with regards to genetics in the past decade, but this will not last long.”
Expected to be officially available for the industry in 2015, Dr Moore said farmers will be able to use carcase trait estimated breeding values to select for ‘days to slaughter’, as well as EUROP confirmation and fat class.
“Not only will producers know how it will meet specification but how long it takes to do it,” said Dr Moore.
She added that genomic estimated breeding values (GEBVs) will enable special cuts to be targeted.
“Some animals have the same carcase weight but can have two kilos more strip loin,” said Dr Moore, “We can differentiate between cattle and maximised important cuts.”
Explaining the benefits of GEBVs over EBVs, Dr Moore said that GEBVs will plug a gap otherwise difficult to guage, such as feed intake, meat quality, female fertility traits and abattoir carcase traits.