£750,000 upgrade for SAC beef cattle research facilities

UK - The Scottish Agricultural College yesterday announced ambitious plans to upgrade its beef cattle research facilities at the Bush Estate, near Penicuik.
calendar icon 15 February 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
The development, which will be funded by a £750,000 grant from the Scottish Executive's Environment and Rural Affairs Department, will involve revamped handling and weighing facilities as well as additional housing.

Scotland has an international reputation for the high quality of its beef, but the facilities at Bush are well past their sell-by date, with only minor investments over the past 25 years.

Beef production in Scotland is worth almost £500 million a year, excluding support payments. This equates to 27 per cent of the total output of Scottish agriculture.

Professor Bill McKelvey, the SAC's chief executive, said:

"The production of high quality beef is crucial to the success of Scottish agriculture. Scottish beef producers and processors face many new challenges and need to harness the opportunities offered by technical advances on either side of the farm gate."

A key element in the new investment will be an increasing focus on genetic improvements. Farmers for many years have been able to buy pedigree bulls with validated performance figures. But the drive now is to select cattle by using gene markers to identify superior eating quality and tenderness. Ease of management is also becoming increasingly important, with fewer employees on farms and farmers frequently having part-time off-farm jobs.

In keeping with the theme of yesterday's event - "Good for the Environment, Good for Business" - environmental issues will be high on the agenda of the development. SAC's team of farm building and environmental specialists will work together with livestock researchers to ensure environmental compliance and to reap possible benefits, both during construction and once the unit is in use.

Source: The Scotsman
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