British Cattle Conference Report

UK- The future of the US beef industry and the perceived health benefits of a new brand of milk were among the subjects under discussion at the annual British Cattle Conference, organised by the British Cattle Breeders Club.
calendar icon 5 February 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

US-based cattle breeder, Steve Radakovich stressed the importance of producing animals with the genetic potential to suit low cost systems and perform well off grass.

Cattle which required high levels of input and needed careful management were no longer profitable and had no place in today’s marketplace, which was experiencing increasingly volatile pricing structures and where land prices had rocketed, he said.

“High-priced feed grains have driven up US land values in the corn (maize) belt; in Iowa, we have seen a 60 per cent rise in land values over the past three years,” Mr Radakovich told delegates.

“This in turn has increased the value of rangeland and western irrigated farms, causing unprecedented demand for purchased and rental steadings, as well as for the commodities produced on farms, including livestock feedstuffs.

“Plant breeders develop varieties matched to specific areas and we need to apply the same principles to cattle breeding. Genetics have moved at jet speed over the last 50 years and at present, beef cattle adapted to a particular environment are being shipped to a completely different environment. I believe that sustainable beef production is now dependent on how cattle perform with fewer resources, not how they perform with more.”

Meanwhile, Peter Nicholson of Muller Wiseman Dairies outlined the benefits of A2 milk. The product, which was developed in Australia, looks and tastes the same as standard milk, but can only be obtained from cows which give a positive response to testing for A2 beta protein.

In order to source its supplies, Muller Wiseman had sampled milk from more than 18,000 UK cows, of which around 35 per cent were found to be A2 animals. Testing is carried out using a sample hair, taken from each cow.

“Studies show that around 20 per cent of UK consumers do not drink milk, but that only 5-6 per cent are clinically proven to be lactose intolerant,” said Mr Nicholson, who is the company’s procurement director.

“The rest perceive that their milk intolerance is lactose-based, when it could very possibly be a reaction to A1 beta protein. In these cases, A2 milk could potentially enable them to drink milk again.”

A2 milk was launched in the UK last autumn, but has been on sale in Australia since 2007. It now commands 4 per cent by volume of the Australian grocery liquid market and more than 6 per cent by value, he added. This means it is larger than organic, lactose-free, fresh soya and goat’s milk sales combined.

The pop star, Danni Minogue has been chosen to head a marketing campaign for the product in the UK, where it is anticipated that 65,000 litres per day will soon be required.

The British Cattle Conference is open to non-members, although anyone with an interest in the UK cattle industry is encouraged to join the BCBC; membership is £25 a year and includes a discount on conference attendance fees. The next British Cattle Breeders conference will be held in Telford, Shropshire on 20-22 January, 2014.

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