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BEEF 2014 Edited by Katie Lomas 01772 799 450

A 20-page Farmers Guardian special pull-out supplement

BRITISH BLUE SUCCESS Story behind the pedigree Twyning Ash herd

FEEDING STRAW Value of straw and liquid feeds for suckler cows

HEALTHY CALVES Minimising calf losses in the rearing period

HOME-GROWN Finishing rations based on home produced grains

FEET MATTER How much is lameness costing you in your beef herd?

MIDHOPE SIMMENTALS Health and commercial traits important for breeders

CLASSIFIED LISTINGS Nine pages of essential beef industry contacts






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BEEF With what is believed to be the longest recording record for British Blues in the UK, Richard Carter of the Twyning Ash herd believes the future is bright for the breed. Louise Hartley went to find out why.

Breeder sees strong future for pedigree Blues


hen Richard Carter first laid eyes on what was then the Belgian Blue breed 26 years ago at the Paris agricultural show, he knew they were the breed for him. On returning home he came across breeder Donald Tyson, who had imported several Belgian Blue females from Belgium. “I contacted Mr Tyson and bought five Hereford cross recipients for £1,750 each, all of which were carrying pedigree blue embryos from the French cow Lumiere Du pre Rosine.

“The three bulls and two heifers which were born from the recipients became the foundation of the Twyning Ash British Blue herd.”

Pedigree beginnings As soon as the calves were born Richard, who farms with his son Charles at Twyning Ash, just under the Cotswold Escarpment in Gloucestershire, started to record their estimated breeding values (EBVs). “I had never been a pedigree breeder before and realised if my cattle were to make their mark, I needed to do everything possible

to promote the herd. EBV recording was one way to raise their profile and give them a unique selling point.” In 1989, Richard was invited to join a recording trial with Signet Breeding Services. “All my calves were recorded and were of the same age as the other participants, so they were ideal for the trial,” says Richard. “I retained ownership of the bulls, with one called Twyning Ash Gladiator doing particularly well in the trial results. “Following the completion of the trial, Gerard Tucker of

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Charles Carter with wife Gemma with their son Franklin and Richard Carter with his wife Julia.

Beeflink, a new semen sales business starting up in Somerset, showed interest in Gladiator. “After he was sent to Horlicks Farm in Ilminster for semen collection, we became a supplier of Blue semen for Beeflink.” British Blues did not have a strong following from the suckler cow breeders at that time and many believed the breed would never catch on as a suckler cow replacement, says Richard. “One reason for this was the problems arising with calving pure Blues. Their popularity was, however, growing among dairy farmers for their impressive carcase quality when crossed with a Holstein.

Bulls “Over the next three to four years I sold four bulls to Genus, and it was then the herd began to get a foothold in the Blue beef semen market,” he says. One of those bulls was Twyning Ash Lingard, which was sold for £6,000. He was still producing semen at 10 years old and is one of the longest living British Blues ever kept by Genus. When Dairy Daughters took over Beeflink, Twyning Ash continued to be the exclusive British Blue semen supplier, with two of the bulls, Jingle and Patrick, selling about 35,000 straws each. “The business was expanding and at this point we had more than 50 pedigree Blues and about 175 sucklers,” says Charles. In late 2004, Dairy Daughters approached the Carter family with

Twyning Ash ■ 107 pedigree British Blue cattle ■ 160 Limousin and British Blue cross-bred suckler cows, plus youngstock ■ About 30 cross-bred females are retained for the commercial suckler herd, as well as six or seven of pedigree Blues, selected on their EBVs and visual quality ■ 250 store and fattening cattle ■ 50 Mule ewes

the idea of combining the semen of three bulls in one straw to make a triple mix. “Research had shown there was a 12 per cent increase in conception rate if the semen from three bulls of different breeds were combined in one straw. “Dairy Daughters had discovered this increase in conception rate was also achievable when using three bulls of the same breed,” says Charles. The Twyning Ash triple mix was the first all-Blue mix available in the UK.“Farmers could also have the added benefit of being guaranteed a British Blue calf, instead of a lucky dip of three breeds,” he says. Richard says he selected three high EBV bulls for the programme, each of which were of similar type. “I was careful to ensure the bulls were of a similar quality so the calves would be uniform too,” says Richard.

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Richard got into the AI industry in 1989, after a Signet trial.

■ 223ha (550 acres) farmland split across three sets of buildings, half of which is rented ■ 40ha (100 acres) wheat and barley and 16ha (40 acres) maize fed to cattle ■ Staff: Richard and Charles ■ Richard is a director of the British Blue cattle society and also served as chairman of the Central club, which has now folded

“Luckily, the three selected bulls – Twyning Ash Ukulele, Twyning Ash United and Twyning Ash Virtue – were already proven and available to collect. “The semen from three more proven bulls – Adam, Allen and Armstrong – was combined and branded as Twyning Ash Triple A. Since then, the triple mixes have become popular in the dairy industry.”

Showing and judging The British Blue sire has long since been established in the dairy industry, but has been gaining momentum within the beef sector, says Richard. “As cattle with British Blue breeding became successful at the Christmas fatstock and commercial summer shows, beef breeders started to recognise the potential of breed. The Blue bulls you see in the show ring look different to those bulls which produce semen for the dairy industry,” he says. “The coloured-type Blues are favoured at shows, so coloured breeding has become more popular,” he says. “However, most semen going on to Holsteins comes from white bulls. This trend was established quickly in the 1980s and has continued ever since. “At the time, if Belgian Blue cross Holstein calves had a lot of black colouration, it was difficult for dairy farmers to convince calf buyers their calves were sired by a Belgian Blue and not a Friesian as their markings were so similar. “A white coloured Blue bull will produce a blue and white calf, whereas a blue/black and white

BEEF | 3


Semen from the latest Twyning Ash triple-mix – Flemming, Finlay and Floyd – is collected on-farm due to the TB status of the area.

bull will produce a black and white calf, which was in limited demand from buyers.” Richard and Charles believe more emphasis should be paid to EBVs and the commercial potential of the animal, rather than letting colour dictate the value.

Sales “Animals with high EBVs are often ignored at pedigree sales in preference to those Blues with dark markings, which are ideal for the show ring,” says Richard. “Coloured bulls with a low EBV can often make more than white bulls with high EBV scores. It is purely down to colour, even though the commercial reality is weight and quality of the end product, not the colour markings.” The family stopped taking their cattle to shows shortly after the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, but Richard has continued to stay involved in the show scene. He has judged at many shows, including every Royal show in the

country, apart from the newly-appointed Royal Three Counties. Although demand for British Blue semen from both the dairy and beef sectors is growing, Richard and Charles both agree there is one big factor currently hindering their business. “The farm is situated in a highrisk TB area and is only 25 miles from a recent cull zone in north Gloucestershire. “Pedigree bulls from a TB restricted area are often discounted at bull sales, regardless of their quality or figures,” says Richard. “Most of our young breeding bulls are sold from home, but we would like to sell at national and society sales. Due to the stigma attached to cattle from TB-affected areas, it is not worth the cost of transport and show and sale preparation. “We are Biobest cattle health

scheme members, regularly blood test all the stock and have been a high health status closed herd since 1995. This has helped the sale of our bulls at home.

Triple-mix “Our latest semen triple mix is collected on-farm, due to the TB status of the area, and is not available for export.” Richard and Charles have previously exported semen to Australia, New Zealand, Poland,South America, Texas and Canada. “Two years ago, a group of international visitors came to the farm after attending the Royal Welsh show, where I had been master judge for the British Blues. “After looking at the stock, one breeder from Denmark was impressed with Tywning Ash Armstrong and placed an order for 1,000 straws of his semen.

“On return home, he ordered a further 4,000 straws of Adam for his company, Viking Genetics.” Richard and Charles have just signed a deal to be the exclusive suppliers of British Blue semen to Alta, with the semen collection taking place on-farm from a range of bulls. Richard says: “The promotion of native breeds has become popular in recent years, but because of their limited carcase size and reduced feed conversion rate, I think this trend will start to reverse. “The only way native breeds retain support is by retailers offering an additional premium for the product and this may be unsustainable. “Due to the conformation achieved when crossing a Holstein with a British Blue, I believe there will always be a demand for British Blue semen.”

Two of the herd’s heifers which have very high EBV figures.

White bulls are used in the dairy industry, while coloured bulls tend to be more popular among pedigree Blue breeders.

Animals with high EBVs are often ignored at pedigree sales in preference to those Blues with dark markings RICHARD CARTER

The suckler herd consists of about 160 Limousin and British Blue crosses. PICTURES: Marcello Garbagnoli

EBVs are recorded for all British Blue bull calves in the herd.




Straw-plus-liquid feed option a good tool for overwintering suckler herds


eeding overwintering suckler cows on a strawplus-liquid feed diet is often seen only as a last resort when forage stocks run low, but according to KW nutritionist Mark Scott, it is an option which should be on every suckler herd menu. He says not only is it a cost-effective way to increase herd numbers and stocking rates, but it is also a valuable tool for managing body condition and protein costs.

“Feeding additional straw through winter can considerably reduce the pressure on grassland during the spring and summer,” says Mr Scott. “It allows grazing to be the priority, not silage-making, putting the focus on building cow condition which can be utilised as an energy source during the winter, with benefits for subsequent cow and calf health the following spring. “Suckler cows will do exceptionally well fed just ad lib straw

and around 2.5-3.0kg fresh weight/day of a high protein molasses blend, plus a vitamin/mineral supplement. And the drier environment underfoot in straw yards will typically produce much fewer problems with hoof health and mastitis.”

Body condition Controlling dry suckler cow body condition during winter is another challenge, with the high feed value of grass silage, compared to cow requirements,

Example suckler cow winter rations to maintain body condition (550kg LW cow) Traditional silage ration 30 0.1 28 10.5 12.3

Grass silage Wheat straw 50 per cent crude protein molasses blend 38 per cent crude protein molasses blend Vitamin/mineral premix Dry matter (%) Energy (MJ ME/kg DM) Protein (% of DM)

kg FW/cow/day Plus straw and liquid feed 17 3 1.5 0.1 39 9.2 12.4

Straw and liquid feed only 7 2.5 0.1 80 7.2 12.8 Source: KW

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tending to produce cows which are over-fit at calving and turnout. The result is often an increase in calving difficulties, nutritionally-induced calf scours caused by excess milk production immediately post-calving, and potentially lower feed intakes once cows are grazing due to reduced rumen capacity. “If we look at the attention to detail paid to dairy dry cow rations, the focus is on large volumes of low energy density feed which maintain body condition, but keep the rumen full, active and well-developed,” says Mr Scott. “The same approach should be applied to suckler cows.

Ration “The whole ration does not have to be straw-based. Simply introducing 3kg/cow/day of straw – balanced with 1.5kg of a high protein molasses blend – will nearly halve silage requirements, while at the same time reducing ration energy density from perhaps 10.5MJ ME/kg DM on silage alone, to a much more desirable 9.0MJ ME/kg DM.”

Feeding additional straw through winter can considerably reduce the pressure on grassland during spring and summer.

The table (left) compares a typical silage-based winter suckler ration with options either incorporating 3kg of straw, or replacing grass silage entirely. The straw-only ration is formu-

lated to meet the typical energy requirements of a dry suckler cow (about 70-75MJ ME/day), while either of those including silage will still oversupply energy when protein requirements are met.

New advice on feeding beef cows SUCKLED calf producers concerned about the risks posed to calves when cows take a long time to give birth are being encouraged to enhance the rations fed to in-calf beef cows in the two to three weeks before calving. SAC Consulting’s beef specialist Gavin Hill says he has increasingly been asked about cows taking too long to calve and not getting on with the job of pushing the calf out. “In some cases prolonged calvings can result in more calf deaths. The simple change to feeding we are recommending

should help to overcome the problem at very little cost. “The goal is to ensure cows can effectively mobilise calcium from their body to allow the birth process to proceed as naturally as possible.”

Magnesium SAC Consulting now recommends higher levels of magnesium are fed to cows two to three weeks pre-calving – for example by supplementing with an extra 30g per day of a high magnesium mineral (15 per cent magnesium) along with the normal mineral they use.

Mr Hill says this extra magnesium will help mobilise the cows’ own body reserves of calcium, improving muscle tone in the womb and preventing prolonged calvings and the detrimental impact that has on the calf. To implement this advice, producers need to know the expected calving date of their cows and group them accordingly. This will allow the additional magnesium to be targeted more accurately to only those animals in late pregnancy, for example by introducing them at a later date for groups of later calving cows.

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Minimising calf losses in suckler herds


ith between 12 and 14 per cent of calves failing to survive to weaning in lowland and upland suckler herds, producers are being advised to look at ways to minimise losses. Debby Brown, Advanced Nutrition’s veterinary nutritionist, says these losses occur during pregnancy, at calving and preweaning, and consequently the cost of keeping a non-productive cow plus reducing the number of calves to sell is having a massive financial impact. Mrs Brown says: “Firstly it is im-

portant to get ready; wherever your herd is scheduled to calve – either indoors or out – the environment should be familiar.

Moving “Cows should only be moved at least 10 days prior to calving or once the calf’s feet show. Moving any other time can upset the cow so she slows down with delivery which, in turn, can lead to calving difficulties. It can also upset intakes and subsequently impact on appetite and milk production post-calving.” She says it is important to be vigilant. “Observe your cows at

Calf health issues COMMON health issues in one to 10-day-old calves: ■ JOINT ILL: The calf will appear lethargic and is less likely to be suckling. Once the infection reaches the joints the calf may look stiff and be reluctant to move. The most obvious joints affected are the knee and stifle joints. Most infections come from the navel so ensure good hygiene and treat the navel regularly ■ NAVEL ILL: The navel may be swollen and will be moist;

ensure it dries up quickly after birth; regular treatment will help prevent this problem ■ SCOURS: Related to rotavirus, coronavirus, E.coli and cryptosporidium. These can be major issues and lead to losses shortly after calving. Each can be reduced by ensuring good colostrum intake. If problems continue to occur, it is worth considering testing some calves for immunoglobulins as well as possibly stripping some cows to test colostrum quality

Calves should receive adequate colostrum in the first six hours, which should equate to at least 20 minutes vigorous suckling on the dam.



least twice daily, and more frequently once calving commences. If they do not appear to be getting on with calving as expected then individual examinations should be carried out.” Mrs Brown advises carrying this vigilance though to postcalving with particular focus on colostrum. “Ideally at least 3.5 litres of colostrum should be received by the calf in the first six

hours. This equates to at least 20 minutes vigorous suckling direct on the dam.

Suckling activity “Monitor suckling activity in the first two hours after birth, and if the calf does not look full or the cow does not appear as though she has been sucked, then an outdoor calving cow and calf pair should be housed and a housed pair penned

to encourage sucking and, if necessary, administer colostrum.” Mrs Brown advises treating navels as often as possible until they have dried up, and she highlights the importance of hygiene in the calving area. “Bedding should be refreshed daily and sheds should be mucked out at least every three weeks. Ideally, calving boxes should be cleaned out between every calv-

ing. Using sand to base a bedded yard can help to reduce the amount of bedding needed as well as disease build-up.”

3.5 The amount of colostrum in litres a calf should receive in its first six hours of life.



BEEF A substantial Northumberland farming operation which has exploited co-products throughout its development now finds the best performance comes from home-grown crimped grain. Farmers Guardian finds out why.

Running a tight ship to maintain margins


rich seam of entrepreneurial spirit runs deep through the Scott family from Swarland, near Alnwick, whose Northumberland farming business has steadily grown into one of the largest beef producers in the UK. The farm today sends 90 head of cattle to its buyer every week, finished to the highest of specifications and meeting the demands of the UK’s most exacting retail outlets.

Chesters Farm ■ Throughput of 90 head of finished beef per week, rising to 100/week this year ■ Forward stores bought mainly from Lancaster, Hexham and Acklington marts ■ Breeds bought mainly of dairy origin, crossed with Angus or continental ■ Ration costed at £1.54 per day for heifers and based predominantly on crimped grain ■ Crimped grain chosen for rumen health, animal performance and early field work

Growth But Fraser Scott and his father, David, have built their business from small beginnings and reached the position of finishing 4,500 cattle every year by recognising and grasping every opportunity which has come their way. David began by selling milk from half a dozen cows on the family’s morning round before he went to school. He progressed to selling rabbits, which he strung to his bike and delivered to local butchers, then added bantams to his range and eventually moved on to pigs. The fact the move to pigs was built off the back of the swill from nearby RAF Boulmer is symptomatic of much which has followed.

The judicious use of by-products, co-products and the most costeffective home-grown feeds is a recurring theme. The trading of livestock eventually evolved into trading land, and David’s unerring eye for the market allowed him to buy when it was down, sell when it was up and gradually build the collateral of the farming business, laying the strongest foundations on which Fraser could build. Today, newly ‘retired’ on the occasion of his 80th birthday,

■ Straw from crimped grain baled behind combine for bedding and feed ■ Cattle destined for Scotbeef, shipped twice weekly in the farm’s own double-decker lorry ■ Beef largely retailed by major national outlets, including M&S and Aldi ■ Beef finishing enterprise sits alongside 850 ewes and 566ha (1,400 acres) of arable ■ Arable comprises about 445ha (1,100 acres) barley or wheat and 121ha (300 acres) rape

David maintains a part-time role as consultant, while Fraser continues to run the family farm. Now totalling more than 1,000 hectares (2,600 acres) and spread across numerous former holdings, the business of today – including The Chesters and Newton Villa Farm – is a feat of organisation and a model of business acumen. As another new building is under construction, at a cost of about £200,000, Fraser says: “It is relatively easy to build a shed

like this without finance today, but that was far from the case when we had our ‘big push’ about 10 years ago.” The ‘big push’ to which he refers came when Fraser saw an opportunity his instincts told him to take. “At the time we had far fewer cattle and buildings and the farm was predominantly arable,” he says. “The opportunity arose for us to obtain waste steamed potatoes from a nearby processing plant, which we would have to take off the premises at a rate of 60-80 tonnes a day.”

Opportunity Approaching his bank for a loan of £750,000, he says the money was spent mainly on cattle (about £400,000) with the remainder largely funding new buildings (the farm at the time had just one triple-span shed) and the equipment required to transport the potatoes. “The product was like soup, so we had to buy tankers to transport the liquid element and the solids went into trailers,” he says. “We also had to commit to take the dirty water, which could have been up to 120 tonnes every day. This needed specialist equipment to be spread on the land.”







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Committed to remove the entire volume the factory produced, cattle numbers quickly increased to about 1,500 head. Neighbours’ farm buildings were rented until the farm had built its own and the whole operation moved up to a new level. “The potatoes came in at such a rate, we had to give the cattle as much as we could,” he says. “We added chopped straw and grass silage to supply long fibre but even so, I think their performance was held back – they were dirtier than they should have been and we had lots of clipping to do before they were sold.” With 70 to 80 cattle moving off the farm every week at this stage, the Scotts had to continue their expansion simply to keep moving the feed. Regularly visiting Lancaster market – the main source of their store cattle and a venue either David or Fraser has attended every week for the last 35 years – numbers further increased until the unit was accommodating 1,600. However, always aware the supply of potatoes could finish as quickly as it had started, the inevitable happened about seven years later in 2009, when the

This is a numbers game and the fact margins are tight is a constant driver FRASER SCOTT

potato processing plant ceased production. “Our back-up plan was to go to Swarland Grain Driers, where we always kept a rolling 1,000 tonnes of unsold grain we could draw on at any time,” he says. Radically changing the ration to include brewers’ grains with home-grown rolled barley, which went into a total mixed ration with chopped straw and grass silage, and was buffered with limestone flour, Fraser continued to seek other co-products to reduce the cost of the ration.

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Fraser Scott (right) with father David (centre) and son Oliver.


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Chesters Farm now covers an area of more than 1,000 hectares (2,600 acres) and is spread across a number of former holdings.

Cattle ration for heifers and steers – freshweights and costs Ingredient Crimped barley Brewers’ grains SelcoPlus (wheat by-product) Grass silage Straw Limestone flour Total

Struggling at the time as more businesses were alert to the co-product options, he relied increasingly heavily on cereals from the farm. “The grain was coming off the fields at about 23-24 per cent moisture, so we had to dry it to 15 per cent for storage and subsequent use,” he says.

Grain drying “We had three gas-powered driers, which was our cheapest option for drying the corn, but because of the late cereal harvests, we were losing time on getting the next crop into the ground and had the additional cost of hiring in staff to speed up the process.” Anxious the arable operation should dovetail more smoothly with the livestock, Fraser was keen that manure-spreading, autumn cultivations and drilling (particularly of oilseed rape) should be brought forward and achieved whenever possible with existing farm staff.

Rate (per head/day) 6kg (+2.5kg for steers) 3.33kg 3.33kg 16.7kg 0.53kg 17g 29.89kg

Cost (per head/day) 75p (+31.25p for steers) 14.65p 31.47p 30p 3.18p Negligible 154.3p (185.55p for steers)

So in 2011 he decided to try crimping rather than dry-harvesting grain. Guided by Michael Carpenter from home-grown feed preservation specialist, Kelvin Cave, he believed this would bring the cereal harvest forward by three to four weeks and would dispense with the cost of drying grain. This, in turn, would bring autumn cultivations and drilling forward, allowing time for grassland reseeds while cutting the cost and increasing the quality of the ration. The system met his expectations and even released the shed which had previously been used for storing dry grain. Instead, part of a former silage clamp was assigned to the crimped grain,

100 The target number of finished cattle this year leaving the farm for Scotbeef each week.

which was harvested at a moisture content of 30-35 per cent, crimped and treated with a buffered organic acid-based preservative, and compacted and covered with double-layered twoin-one sheeting in the clamp. “We considered a variety of crimpers to do the job and eventually bought the Korte 1400,” he says. “I had seen how it would process the grains and add the preservative, and knew we could readily achieve a throughput of 25-30 tonnes per hour.” Today, crimped grain forms the largest component of the ration, which has been reformulated to include brewers’ grains and a high energy and protein wheat by-product, with silage and straw (see table). At a cost of 154p/day for heifers (186p for steers), the ration is also said to have improved the health, performance and the look of the cattle and has reduced the need to clip before sale. Grading sheets tell a similar story, with predominantly R

Forward stores are bought from marts and mainly of dairy origin, crossed with Angus or continentals.

Fraser Scott works with Kelvin Cave’s Michael Carpenter to treat crimped grain with a buffered organic acid-based preservative.

grades achieved from dairy cross heifers and steers, killing out, on average, at 330kg. But as one of the biggest suppliers to Scotbeef, the family will neither divulge their price nor their average margin. “I did accurately work out the margin on the Angus-cross heifers last year,” admits Fraser. “They were on the farm for 60 days and returned a margin of £61/head. The margin for continentals was less, largely because they are on-farm for longer.”

Margins However, he says: “This is a numbers game and the fact margins are tight is a constant driver. They are not easy to obtain unless you run a tight ship and this is what I hope we do. “We will continue to use grain as I think it is the best way of finishing stock and I have not found a better way of processing it than crimping. “It allows harvest to take place when its nutritional value is highest and there is virtually zero waste in the clamp,” he says.

Grain is now crimped as it was found to be more cost-effective than drying and allows for autumn cultivations and re-seeds.

“Any co-product, by contrast, has always had its quality depleted in some way because of the way it is processed,” he adds. This year, he says he will add a new larger tonnage crimper (the Korte 2000) to the inventory and increase his crimped grain storage to four clamps, each with a capacity of 750 tonnes. And as the new livestock shed

also comes on stream, the throughput of the farm will rise to 5,000 head per year. “But there is no reason why this system could not work for 10,000 just as well as it does for 5,000 head,” he says. And does he foresee that happening? He turns to his son and the next generation who will take on the task of carrying it through. “Ask Oliver,” he says.

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EEBLEX BLEX iiss a d division ivision o off tthe he A Agriculture griculture aand nd H Horticulture orticulture D Development evelopment B Board oard ((AHDB) AHDB)


BEEF | 9


How much is lameness costing you in feed and barren cows?


ameness in the dairy industry is receiving a lot of press at the moment, but what about beef animals? Emily Ross of Norfolk Farm Vets says it costs about £450 to £800 to keep a suckler cow for a year. However, if lame, a cow will spend less time feeding as she cannot compete so well with the others for concentrates and, as a result, she will lose condition, which will also impact on her calf.

“It is important to change your lameness problems, however small, into opportunities to improve production and productivity,” says Miss Ross. “Even if your farm has what you consider to be a ‘normal’ amount of lameness, there is plenty we can do to reduce it and, in doing so, improve the conception rates of the cows and the growth rates in youngstock.” Difficulties can arise when trying to spot signs of lameness, which can be easy if the

cow is ‘hopping’ along, but less so when signs are as simple as a head nod or a shortened stride, says Molly McKay, also of Norfolk Farm Vets. She says beef cattle are prone to all the same conditions as dairy cattle, both infectious and non-infectious, but to a lesser or greater degree.

Management changes “Infectious causes, such as joint ill, foul, or digital dermatitis, can often be prevented at a

Beef cattle are prone to the same infectious and non-infectious lameness conditions as dairy cattle.

herd level with management changes. “Non-infectious causes may be genetic, for example corkscrew claw, which require changes in breeding policy for a long-term cure with short-term remedial care on a frequent basis. They can also be nutritional, for example laminitis or Vitamin E deficiency, or related to the surfaces they walk on, such as white line disease. “Without knowledge of what you are dealing with, it is difficult to be in a position to tackle the problem.” In order to get a grip on lameness, both vets advise spending time with your vet to determine what the underlying problems on your farm are. Miss McKay says a lame bull is even more of a problem for the herd as his feet are crucial for him to be able to mount. “Sperm production can be affected for six weeks after one short bout of lameness,” she says.  “He should get 95 per cent of cows in-calf in nine weeks, so you need to ask whether your cows can wait for the bout of lameness to pass and whether

Producing dairy steers rather than bulls could be an option WITH wheat and barley prices falling and strong beef demand, many producers are again looking at Holstein Friesian bull calves and how to use them best in a beef production system. However Clive Mahony, of Meadow Quality, says the market place is changing with many processors tending to buy steers, heifers and top grade bulls (often single suckled) rather than just slaughter any animal offered. “Keeping bulls growing can

be a challenge, as can fixing a feed price for a 12-month period, especially at the end of their finishing period when they can be consuming a lot of feed.

Performance “Getting a good finish of a fat class three can also be a challenge. Steers, however, are easier to manage as they can use good forage while still achieving good performance. “Unlike bulls, their ration can

easily be altered to help keep feed costs under control while still achieving budgeted growth rates. Steers make better use of cattle spaces too, as animals from different pens can be mixed without compromising growth rates. Other stock can be housed near steers and they are a lot easier and safer to handle. “Black and white steer beef is accepted by most processors, with a premium over bull beef of 5p to 17p/kg – which is £13.50 to £45.90 on a 270kg carcase.”

Mr Mahony says Holstein Friesian steers can be grown intensively and finished within 13 months on total mixed rations, producing 250kg to 280kg O-3 carcases and 300kg O4L carcases within 16 months. “Some producers look to finish them more extensively on low input systems at 24-36 months of age. With steer production, a producer can also elect to sell them as stores, which is rarely an economic option with bulls.”

you can afford not to have them in-calf. “Always have stock bulls checked as part of your bull fertility exam a couple of months pre-

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BEEF Keeping a close eye on the commercial market and making herd health a priority has secured recognition and top prices for the Midhope herd of British Simmentals. Chloe Palmer visited the Hollingsworth family to find out more.

Commercial focus for pedigree herd


roducing high quality beef cattle has been the focus for the Hollingsworth family since World War II. Originally butchers from Sheffield, the family moved to Midhope Hall Farm, near Stocksbridge, on the north-eastern fringe of the Peak District, in 1945. John Hollingsworth’s father would go to market every morning and buy ‘anything he could make money on’ and after finishing it on the farm, he would slaughter and butcher it to sell it through the shop. John believes he learned a lot from the family’s ‘butchering

background’. He spent time with his father selecting cattle in the sale ring for fattening and see the same animals hung up. He also shared his father’s preference for ‘white-headed cattle’, stemming from time spent with the dairy herd.

Suckler herd “We milked a herd of 75 British Friesians, but then in 1984, when quotas came in, we had to reduce our herd size so we decided to build up a suckler herd,” says John. “I bought our first Simmental bull, Sterling Manhattan, from Crewe for 1,400gns. My father

John (centre) and Val Hollingsworth with son Craig (left).

was paying £300 back then for commercial heifers and I was terrified of bringing him home and having to tell him how much I had paid.” His purchase quickly earned its price tag, as John explains. “We fattened bulls and heifers from him, and everything made top prices in the sale rings at Huddersfield and Penistone. “We also brought some of the cross-bred cows into the milking herd and one or two were giving as much milk as the pedigree Friesians.” John was so impressed by the performance of the Simmental progeny, he bought his first pedigree heifers in 1988 and used Sterling Manhattan on them to give him his first pedigree calves. When the family finally gave up milking in 2007, there was little doubt the focus would switch to the pedigree herd. The last of the sheep flock were also sold around the same time and a purchase from Perth signalled a major step forward for the Midhope herd. “Dirnanean Snowie walked into the ring and I knew it was the bull I was going to buy. We paid 11,000gns for him. “At the time, it seemed a very

Good growth rates and excellent feet and legs are key for heifers.

high price, but we have sold animals to the value of £350,000 from him. Then there are his females in the breeding herd and we are still using him today.” Since 2007, John has bought two more bulls, Corskie Wealth and Delfur Chas, and both have proved their worth in the pedigree and the commercial sale rings. “When I buy a bull, I study their EBVs first,” he says. “I am looking for excellent calving ease, good growth rates and eye muscle.” His son Craig is now closely involved with the pedigree herd and shares his father’s views when investing in its future. “The bull must look right. Last

time I went to the sales, I circled 18 bulls in the catalogue based on bloodlines, but once I had seen them all, I had narrowed it down to two I was seriously interested in.”

Misconceptions Conformation is important to Craig as he believes there are commonly-held misconceptions about Simmentals which wants to dispel. “Many people think of a Simmental as a big, ‘growthy’ animal, but we like to keep a lot of shape in our cattle.” A focus on the female line has also paid dividends, as Craig explains. “We are looking for good growth rates in our heifers, with

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the necessary length in the frame and width, and also excellent feet and legs. “We are always aiming to produce the best females because they are the key to good calves. There is nothing among the beef breeds to match the Simmental for milking ability.” The system at Midhope Hall Farm has to suit the long, wet winters and a short growing season. Most of the farm is permanent grass, which is grazed, and silage is made on the flatter land. There is also some temporary grass, which usually yields at least two cuts of silage and last summer stretched to three. The family has a tenancy for 20 hectares (50 acres) of drier ground. This allows them to grow winter barley and oats, which they combine and feed to the bulls. “The cows are all housed on


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Midhope Hall Farm ■ Midhope Hall Farm extends to 105 hectares (260 acres), of which 77ha (190 acres) is owned and 28ha (70 acres) is tenanted from Yorkshire Water ■ The farm is mainly permanent grassland with 16ha (40 acres) of temporary grassland and 20ha (50 acres) of rented arable land on drier ground five miles from the main farm

■ Land at Midhope Hall Farm rises to 300 metres (1,000 feet) and much of the acreage lies on a steep north-facing slope ■ The Midhope pedigree herd of British Simmentals comprises 50 breeding females, 12 heifers and three bulls. The family also run a commercial suckler herd of 40 Simmental cross British Friesian cows Most heifers and bulls are usually targeted at the spring sales.

The commercial and pedigree cows are fed grass in summer and silage in winter and have access to mineral blocks and rock salt.

straw and we only manage to get 300 bales from our rented arable land, so we still need to buy in a further 1,000 bales,” says John. “But we like to see them on straw and find it reduces disease incidence in the herd.” The commercial and the pedigree cows have only grass in summer and silage in winter, with mineral blocks and rock salt, and live up to their reputation as ‘good doers’. Calves are introduced to creep fed by six weeks of age. Although the herd is all-yearround calving, Craig is aiming for most to calve in the autumn. “We aim most of our bulls and females for the spring sales because this seems to be when most people want to buy,” he says. “Our main focus is to get a calf from a cow each year and we are achieving it. We never have any fertility problems.” Craig is also very vigilant when monitoring the condition of in-calf cows. “Easy calving is as much about management as it is about genetics,” he says. “If we think any of our cows are too fat, we will put them onto an oat straw only diet with a mineral bucket. “We find the oat straw is ideal because it allows the cows to achieve the optimum condition at calving, but it also contains plenty of natural oils, which keeps their digestive system going.”

Bloodlines Running three bulls with 90 cows might seem to be an expensive extravagance, but Craig is quick to point out the reasoning for this. “We want to maintain our own bloodlines. We bought-in three heifers a year ago and one tested positive for IBR, so we have decided we want to remain a closed herd from now on.” Unlike many pedigree breeders, the Hollingsworth family has decided not to use reproductive technology to expand the herd. “We have tried artificial insemination and embryo transfer (ET), but it did not work for us,” says John. “We sell a number of our commercial females as recipients to pedigree breeders who use ET because they give so much milk.” The family is willing to embrace proven herd health initiatives, however. “We now test all our pedigree and commercial animals for BVD, IBR, Johne’s and leptospirosis. Buyers always ask about health status, whether they

Our main focus is to get a calf from a cow each year and we are achieving it. We never have any fertility problems CRAIG HOLLINGSWORTH are buying pedigree or commercial breeding animals,” says Craig. Routine vaccination for IBR has also had additional benefits, he adds. “Since we have been vaccinating for IBR, we have suffered very little pneumonia in the herd. The incidence has dropped from between 5 to 6 per cent to less than 1 per cent today.” All youngstock receive worming boluses prior to turnout and the entire herd and followers are treated with a pour-on at housing. The Midhope herd is signed up to SAC’s Premium Cattle Health Scheme (PCHS). Maintaining the highest standards in everything they do is a recurring theme at Midhope Hall Farm. “If any animal is not absolutely right, we will not sell it on,” says John. “Anything which does not make the grade goes for fattening. Our bulls typically make 650kg at 13 months and this year they have been making a 220p/kg liveweight in the sale ring.” John is quick to point out another benefit of selling commercial animals regularly through the markets. “Since we have been selling fat cattle at Selby, we have had more interest in our pedigrees. Our potential customers can see what they will do,” he says. The passion at Midhope Hall unquestionably lies in the future of the pedigree herd, but Mr Hollingsworth does not let this distract him from the ultimate goal of any beef producer. “We have to keep our eye on the commercial market because it is creates the bottom line in everything we do.”


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Sunday 16th February


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Society Sales at Stirling in 17th February, Castle Douglas in May, Welshpool 15th May and the Annual Show and Sale in Castle Douglas 31st October and 1st November All cattle at society sales are tested free of and vaccinated against BVD and are from Johnes monitored herds - Vendors are members of a CHeCHs health scheme.

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Forthcoming sales for 2014: National British Blue Cattle Society Show and Sale of Pedigree and Crossbred British Blues Friday/Saturday 7th & 8th March Friday/Saturday 5th & 6th September The Shorthorn Society Annual Show and Sale of Beef Shorthorns Saturday 26th April Saturday 8th November

The Annual Highland Cattle Society Shows and Sales Saturday 26th April Saturday 8th November Along with the Autumn “Best of British” Show and Sale of Native Beef Breeds Twice Monthly Red Markets Next Red Market for TB Cows and no 6 day rule restrictions Tuesday 4th February at 8:30am


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Tuesday 28th January

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Thursday 6th February On behalf of the British Charolais Cattle Society

64 Pedigree Charolais Bulls 3 in-calf Charolais Heifers Sale at 11 am. Judging on Wednesday 5th Feb at 4 pm. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Leyburn Mart hold fortnightly Store Cattle sales of between 50 and 450 steers, heifers and feeding bulls on Friday’s. From November to May, shows are held along with these sales when cattle presented are predominately Limousin and British Blue crosses. Many of these cattle are “three quarter Continental” as the Dales farmers have moved to breed quality beef types from their suckler herds On Saturday 8th March the Mart will hold its annual Spring Spectacular for Show Potential Cattle when 50/60 superior halter trained steers and heifers are shown and sold to a wide audience of the keenest cattle men, women, boys and girls in the country.

Weekly Wednesday Sales of PRIME CATTLE Inc Young Bulls, Heifers, Steers, Otm & Cows Slaughter Only Market Top prices Wednesday 15th/January Heifers to 295.5p/kg, Steers 253.5p/kg, Bulls 240.5p Full ringside of buyers for all classes Fortnightly Saturday Sales of Store & Breeding Cattle inc .Steers, Heifers Bulls, Stirks, Calves, OTM & Feeding Cows Next Sale Saturday 1st February 2014

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Embryos and Semen

Glyn Vaughan 07712 627 947

Long Ash Speckle Park Semen and embryos available Tel: 01300 320343 Email:

B & S Pointon

Butchers Waste Collection Ltd Meriden

Collecting all types of fallen stock Cattle‐Sheep‐Pigs‐Horses‐Poultry over 48 months. Registered collection for NFSCO Midlands, Leics, Northants, Glos, Staffs For more information please call Steve Pointon on 07760 198 738

CULNAGECHAN LIMOUSIN HERD Prize Winning Breeder of Limousin Bulls & Heifers. Culnagechan Exceptional Semen For Sale.

Contact: Derek Hume

07970 471 540

Balgay Shorthorn Bulls Chapelton Bravehart sons and semen for sale good temperament, high health status and ready to work. Mike Riddle, Inchture, Perth. 07885 965495

ATTENTION ALL FARMERS STOCK BULLS FOR HIRE Winter Rates Available All Beef / Dairy Breeds All Stock Bulls vaccinated for BVD, Lepto & IBR. All areas covered Please see website for further details Tel: Karen 07721 775157 Also suppliers of Native Breed Beef, Lamb & Pork


Tel: 01637 880523

THE MOSS Pedigree Aberdeen Angus High EBV Young Bulls ready to work For sale on SAC premium health scheme Paul Lloyd 07834 773079 Kevin Moores 07949 827928

AUSTRALIAN LOWLINE CATTLE Big Performance from a Small Package Registered Sires, Females, Embryos, Semen and Recipients. Available for the UK and Europe. Contact: James W. A. Graham Livestock Phone: 0044 (0)7624 462973 Email:

12 Pedigree Galloway Bulling Heifers

30 months old, sire Desemne captain, TB4 area Tel: 01729 860418 N Yorks (P)

10 Aberdeen Angus Heifers In calf, due end of January onwards, TB4 area

Tel: 07515 510131 Yorkshire (P) PEDIGREE HIGHLAND CATTLE FOR SALE



PEDIGREE BEEF SHORTHORN BULL ‘Gilvern Fuel’, High indexing, Johnnes & BVD accredited TB4, Haltered. Successfully used already.

Tel: 01347 810980

PILSBURY PEDIGREE ABERDEEN ANGUS Selection of Bulls and Females always available. Easy calving. High Health status. Mobile: 07966 360210 Bakewell, Derbyshire

3 Cows with calves at foot, mixed colours also 1 Black Bull.

Tel: David Cross on: 07877 038134 Cheshire OAKLANDS LIVESTOCK CENTRE Supplies of quality calves and weaned calves for over 30 years. All quantities catered for and delivered to all parts of the UK. Also imported incalf heifers and cows sourced for you to pick from. Tel: 07968 131977 view our website via and click onto Livestock.





Buildings & Feedstuffs

SYMMS BINS Fill by: Blowpipe or Loader Can be suitable for snackers

Suppliers of British made cold rolled steel buildings to meet your needs

Grabs, Buckets & Bale Squeezers also available 4 to 10 Tonnes 3 to 6 Tonnes Prices from £380 Prices from £720

(0845) 834 0877 01472 399 738 EXAMPLE GENERAL PURPOSE SELF BUILD BARN KIT 30ft span x 60ft long and 14ft to eaves, roller shutter 12ft x 12ft and Personnel door

Can be suitable for a Sheep Snacker

£14,650 excluding VAT delivered to site (UK mainland)

Back Plate i.e. Euro-Matbro

Tel: 01935 851243

Ad-Lib Beef Feeder from 4-6 Tonnes

• Workshops • Machinery Sheds

• Equestrian buildings • Open fronted barns

• Hay barns • Industrial units

Fax: 01935 851113


Sheep and Cattle Equipment We build what you want! Mobile sheep systems with digital weighing, quad transport etc. Feed trailer, troughs, barriers, walk-through feeders etc. For Cattle and Sheep. Digital cattle weigh platforms/crates, handling races and penning systems.

To discuss your requirements please call Matt: 07734 934793


OFFICE: 01270 560949 MOBILE: 07970 252403


IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ADVERTISERS Although every advertisement is carefully checked, occasionally mistakes do occur.We therefore ask advertisers to assist by checking their advertisements carefully and advise us immediately should an error occur. We regret that we cannot accept responsibility for more than ONE INCORRECT insertion and that no re-publication will be granted in the case of typographical or minor changes which do not affect the value of the advertisement. While every endeavour will be made to meet the wishes of the advertisers, the publisher does not guarantee insertion of any particular advert.

Concrete Flooring Specialists Agriculture’s National Newspaper


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• Agricultural & Industrial Flooring • Aprons & Yards • Powerfloat Finish • Tamp or Brush • Screeds • Rafts • Foundations • Drainage

Nationwide Coverage

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The biggest classified section in the marketplace Over 2,000 items advertised every week! To Advertise call 0800 2799928 supporting the agricultural industry



BEEF BREED DIRECTORY ABERDEEN ANGUS Chief Executive Ron McHattie Pedigree House 6 Kings Place Perth, PH2 8AD Tel: 01738 622477 Fax: 01738 636436 Email:

British Charolais Cattle Society Stoneleigh Park, Warwicks, CV8 2RG Tel: 02476 697222 Fax: 02476 690270 email:

DEVON CATTLE BREEDERS SOCIETY Breed Secretary: Catherine Broomfield t: 01404 812800 e: w: The Red Ruby Devon Part of farming’s future


Beefs Best Kept Secret. To find out more, contact: Debbie Dann Society Secretary Tel/Fax:

0845 017 1027 Email:

Secretary: Frank Milnes 4th Street, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire CV8 2LG


02476 696549 Fax: 02476




HEREFORD CATTLE SOCIETY Hereford House 3 Offa Street Hereford HR1 2LL

The British Limousin Cattle Society National Agricultural Centre Kenilworth CV8 2RA Tel: 02476 696500 E-mail:

MURRAY GREY BEEF CATTLE SOCIETY Ideal Low Cost Suckler Cow Further details contact Rosemary Kent

Secretary: Dorothy Goldie Tel/Fax: 01556 502753 email:


Mr D.E. Prothero (Secretary)

Tel 01873 810547 Email:

Tel: (01432) 272057 Fax: (01432) 377529


Web site:

Tel: 01392 447494 Fax: 01392 447495

Avenue M, NAC, Stoneleigh Park, Warks, CV8 2RG Telephone: 02476 419058 Fax: 02476 419082 e-mail:

• For cows with a long working life • To breed your own replacements • To establish a Closed Herd • For cows with plenty of quality milk • Suitable for any terminal sire • For easy calving For further details Contact The Secretary Liz Wilde Tel: 07903 626249


NORTH WEST TEXEL BREEDER’S CLUB Secretary Jill Mortimer Tarbatt Winter Hill Farm Lynwood Avenue Darwen BB3 0LB Tel: 07725 806655 e-mail



Irish Farm Centre, Bluebell, Dublin 12, Ireland. Tel: + 353 1 4198050 Email:

Contact the Secretary


Tel: 01228 562946 Fax: 01228 562187


The Shetland Cattle Breeders Association Whitebred Shorthorn Association

Secretary Jayne Borrows Tel: 01522 511395 Email:

Rock Midstead, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 2TH

07891 245870

Annual Spring & Autumn Sales held at Carlisle for more information please contact The Secretary Jane Wilson, Tel: 01434 240435 email:

Wester Drumlochy, Lornty, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, PH10 6TD Tel: 01250 873882 Email:

The British Blue Cattle Society

Dexter Cattle Society Charolais Pavilion, Avenue M, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, CV8 2RG Sue Archer Breed Secretary Tel: 02476 692300 Fax: 02476 692400 email: Website:


Fell View, Blencarn, Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 ITX

01286 672391 or 01982 551111



15 New Market Street, Castle Douglas, Kirkudbrightshire, DG7 1HY

Breed Secretary Caroline Poultney Westpoint, Clyst St Mary, Exeter EX5 1DJ

For details telephone


For Suckler Cows

Galloway Cattle Society

CATTLE SOCIETY Stirling Agricultural Centre Stirling FK9 4RN Tel: 01786 446866 Fax: 01786 446022 Email:

LONGHORN Cattle Society Founded 1878 Secretary : Barry Allen Tel: 01768 870433

Company Secretary: John Fleming


01768 88775 Email:


SUSSEX The Great British Beef Breed

Tel: 01580 880105 e-mail:


B ri t i s h P a r t h e n a i s C a ttl e S oc i e ty

CATTLE SOCIETY Secretary: Tessa Akers Pond Farm Charlton Malmesbury Wiltshire SN16 9DU Tel: 01677 451852 E-mail:

C on ta c t P e te r We s l e y Wi l low Cr e e k Fa r m M i ll R a c e , Te tne y, Gri m s b y, L i n c s DN 36 5J Z Te l/ F a x 01472 453699

Agriculture’s National Newspaper FREEPHONE 0800 2799928

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The highest performing dual purpose suckler breed in the UK, producing unrivalled weight for age to fit any store or finishing system, and females to calve at 2 years old!

British Simmental Cattle Society Spring Sales 2014

Stirling - 17th February Thainstone - 26th February Newark - 29th March

Carlisle - 25th April Stirling - 5th May Bristol - 10th May

All entries BVD Vaccinated /tested All vendors members of CHeCS Health Schemes and herd testing for Johnes. All Bulls DNA sire verified.

Beef Supplement January 2014