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STABILISER™ NEWSLETTER WINTER 2013

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year Southburn, Driffield, East Yorkshire YO25 9ED, UK Telephone: 01377 227790 Fax: 01377 229253 www.bigbeef.co.uk Beef Improvement Grouping Limited t/a Stabiliser Cattle Company Registered in England No 28482661 VAT Registration No 599 1558 78


Progressive Developments for the Stabiliser™ Several new initiatives have contributed to the expansion of the Stabiliser breed during 2013. There has been a significant increase in the demand for breeding stock, both from existing suckler producers and also from farmers setting up new herds. This demand is being matched by continued breed improvement with attention being focused on selecting high performance bulls and females to improve profitability for beef producers. The Net Feed Efficiency (NFE) trials are also beginning to identify sire lines that consume less feed for the same live weight gain and the semen marketing agreement BIG has established with Cogent is ensuring that these super-efficient genetics have the opportunity to be spread across a greater numbers of cows. Three well attended farm open days were held last summer to promote the breed and the work being carried out at the NFE unit in Yorkshire. BIG/Cogent semen marketing agreement Cogent is running trials to assess the suitability of the Stabiliser on dairy cows. Two bulls are currently undergoing calving surveys and the progeny will then be recorded through to slaughter. Morrisons is also encouraging its dairy producers to use Stabiliser semen and is offering a bonus of £20 per calf above the standard price to farmers that supply Stabiliser crossbred calves for rearing through to slaughter. ASDA is subsidising Stabiliser semen by 50% from the high feed efficient bull Crugeran Llewelyn to its BeefLink produces to encourage them to improve maternal trait efficiencies. BIG/Morrisons Yearling Beef Scheme BIG and Morrisons are developing an exciting new initiative to improve the production efficiency and profitability of finishing cattle based on yearling Stabiliser bulls. A pricing schedule for The Yearling Beef Scheme has been established based on the Woodhead’s weekly bull grid. Premiums are paid for strictly in-spec bulls. The project is managed by a small group of Stabiliser breeders which meet regularly with David Evans (Head of Agriculture for Morrisons) to discuss progress and to design new initiatives within the project. David said that “I am really excited about this project as it has huge potential’’. BIG is using Tenderscot measurements to monitor the tenderness of steer and bull meat. Initial results are summarised in this newsletter. BIG NFE Project The NFE unit at Wold Farm continues to deliver high quality results. 44 groups of farmers and industry specialists have visited the unit during the last year. BIG continues to utilise cutting edge technology to improve the profitability of breeding and feeding Stabiliser cattle and to ensure a high eating quality experience for consumers. I hope you find this newsletter interesting. Richard Fuller Technical Director 2


BIG Net Feed Efficiency Unit Open Day The annual Net Feed Efficiency Unit open day at Wold Farm, Givendale was held on Wednesday, 15th May 2013. The event was well attended by 45 farmers, many of whom were showing interest in the Stabiliser breed for the first time. Several attended from Northern Ireland. The programme included presentations from – • • •

Richard Fuller, BIG Technical Director – Stabiliser introduction and update Jimmy Hyslop, SAC Beef Specialist - Principles of NFE and trial results Denis Dreux, Keenan Senior Nutritionist – NFE unit diet formulation

A question and answer session followed before hot Givendale Prime beef rolls were served for lunch. They were very welcome on a rather unseasonably cool day. Following lunch, visitors were shown the NFE unit. This was followed by a trailer tour around Givendale Farm to see the Stabiliser breeding females and calves. All the stock looked extremely well considering the cold spring and the shortage of grass. Visitors also saw some of the first Black Stabilisers that BIG has imported from the USA. The introduction of black lines will expand the Stabiliser gene pool in the UK and will be of interest to farmers who are keen to keep black suckler cows. Enthusiastic interest during the day has resulted in follow-up visits and a number of bulling heifers have been sold to establish new herds. Ursula Taylor

Visitors inspecting the Givendale cows and calves

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Beef Expo 2013 Beef Expo 2013 on Thursday 23rd May was once again held at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern. This was the third event in five years and as a result there seemed to be a lack of interested people visiting the breed society stands. The Beef Improvement Group’s stand focused on profitable suckler cow production and Feed Efficiency with an emphasis on the work being carried out at the NFE Unit at Wold Farm in Yorkshire. The event gave BIG the opportunity to launch the semen marketing agreement with Cogent. This gives Cogent the sole rights to market Stabiliser semen in the EU and other specified counties. The cattle on the stand were a good example of the breed and were kindly loaned by – J.W. Evans, Walcot Farm, Lydbury North, Shropshire. On show were – • • • • •

Two spring born bulling heifers Two autumn born embryo heifers Two yearling bulls ready for sale A cow and heifer calf A stock bull that had just turned 2 years old and had bred 80 cows in his first year, being used on a spring and autumn herd

BIG was awarded Highly Commended for the stand by judge, Phil Stocker. He praised the presentation and commented on the high standard of technical information available. Manning the stand were Richard Fuller, Ursula Taylor and James Evans. Ursula Taylor

Ursula in discussion with Joe Manion, Woodheads Procurement Manager and Stabiliser breeder Jono Cole from Devon 4


International Agri Benchmark Organisation visit Givendale International Agri Benchmark is a global, non-profit network of agricultural economists, advisors, producers and specialists in key sectors of agricultural and horticultural value chains. AHDB and EBLEX hosted this year’s Agri Benchmark Beef and Sheep Conference in York. The event was designed to deliver information to stakeholders that can help with business or trading decisions. A number of visits to farms and processing facilities had been organised by AHDB and BIG had the privilege of hosting a visit to the NFE Unit at Wold Farm. The participants from England were EBLEX and delegates from Australia, New Zealand, China, Russia, Europe and several other countries also attended. Presentations from Richard Fuller and Jimmy Hyslop were then followed by a visit to the NFE Unit and a tour around Givendale looking at the Stabiliser cattle. Davy Thirlwell accompanied the visitors to explain the way he manages the herd of 250 Stabiliser cows. Ursula Taylor

Delegates from the Agri Benchmark Group at the NFE Unit

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Partridge Farm Open Day On Wednesday 17th July James Evans, who won the Farmers Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year 2012, kindly hosted an open day at Partridge Farm, Linley, Bishops Castle, Shropshire. James who farms in partnership with his father John and brother Rob manages the livestock enterprise for J.W. Evans & Sons. This includes Walcot Farm running a herd of 120 autumn calving Stabiliser cows and 1100 Lleyn ewes and Partridge Farm which is managed under a contract farming agreement where there are 180 spring calving Stabiliser cows. James used to run Holstein cross cows mated to Charolais bulls but he was determined to increase the number of calves sold per cow mated by reducing calving difficulty and improving fertility levels, so he approached Richard Fuller about the Stabiliser breed which he then decided to develop. James’s enthusiasm and considerable investment in purchasing pure breeding females from Givendale and Weighton Wold has accelerated the change-over to Stabilisers during the last 5 years. This has been augmented by the use of semen from high performance bulls in the top 1% of the breed and the purchase of embryos to establish new bloodlines.

James Evans discussing his farming policy with visitors 6


James is now selling a number of breeding heifers and bulls each year to other new breeders starting up as he did 6 years ago. This includes sales to breeders in the Isle of Man and Ireland. The afternoon started with a brief series of talks from:• • • • •

James Evans, host for JW Evans & Sons Richard Fuller, BIG Technical Director Jimmy Hyslop, SAC Beef Specialist Denis Dreux, Keenan Senior Nutritionist Chris Mallon, NBA Director

Visitors were then taken on a tour of the farm to view the Stabiliser herd. This was quite a task as over 120 people had arrived but James’s planning meant that there were enough tractors and people carriers available. The tour gave an overview of the well managed farm and breeding herd starting with groups of bulling heifers, followed by first calvers with calves at foot, and ended with various groups of cows and calves. James drew attention to the bulls being used and one two year old in particular that had already served 80 cows in two herds. All the cattle on view were of a very high standard and were an excellent ‘shop window’ for the breed and a credit to James for his vision and focus on making a profit. On arrival back to the farmyard a welcome smell of Givendale Prime burgers wafted in the air, these were soon consumed allowing time for discussion. Ursula Taylor

The wagons circle on the Partridge Ranch! 7


Snipe House Open Day Over 80 people attended an open day kindly hosted by Robert Robinson at Snipe House, Alnwick, Northumberland on Wednesday 30th July, just a few weeks after he had undergone a hip replacement operation. Robert farms over 2000 acres at Snipe House which he rents from the Duke of Northumberland, he also owns Ditchburn, a 1000 acre farm which is a few miles away. He has been grading up his original herd to Stabilisers during the last 12 years. Snipe House runs a spring calving herd of 600 Stabiliser cows. The mature cows are outwintered on a 750 acre block of rough hill ground which is not grazed from midsummer onwards to allow sufficient growth of vegetation to carry the cows through to spring. Once the cows are turned away to the hill they do not receive any supplementary feed, other than minerals, unless deep snow covers the grass when straw is taken out. The cows are calved outside during April and May. The heifers and 1st calvers are wintered inside so they can be fed a higher plane of nutrition to ensure their continued growth. This strategy means that Robert now has most of his buildings available to finish his steers and to rear all his heifers, some of which he retains as replacements with a good proportion of the remainder being sold for breeding.

A new-born calf out on Robert’s hill in spring 2013

The afternoon started with a brief series of talks from:• • • •

Robert Robinson host Richard Fuller, BIG Technical Director Jimmy Hyslop, SAC Beef Specialist Denis Dreux, Keenan Senior Nutritionist 8


The main interests at Snipe House are the way in which Robert manages his grazing system and his development of a uniform, low cost and high output cow herd. The farm tour took in groups of bulling heifers, heifers with calves at foot and cows and calves and the stock bulls including some black bulls were running with the herds. Robert is one of the first breeders to use Black Stabiliser bulls having purchased embryos in 2011. The uniformity of the moderate sized cows was striking, so too was the quality of the calves which were born in a very tight calving pattern. The tour stopped to look at the extent of the area of deferred grazing where Robert out winters his cows. Most people were quite envious of the opportunity that presents to Robert in his quest to save the high labour and feed costs of in-wintering cows. After a very informative and enjoyable day Givendale Prime burgers were served and time allowed for an exchange of views. Ursula Taylor

Robert talks to visitors about his out-wintering strategy

A group of heifers with Robert’s deferred grazing hill in the background 9


EBLEX Improved Herd Awards 2013 The Park House herd of 140 Stabiliser cows owned by Paul Capstick, of Heversham near Milnthorpe, in Cumbria, has been recognised by EBLEX as the Most Improved Herd of Stabiliser cattle in England for 2013. The award is presented by the EBLEX Beef Better Returns Programme (BRP) to the recorded Stabiliser herd that shows the greatest genetic gain for commercial characteristics over the previous year.

Congratulations to Paul Capstick for winning the 2013 EBLEX Most Improved Herd Award for Stabiliser cattle

Paul has been at Park House Farm for 32 years, farming alongside his parents until recently when he took over the tenancy. The farm is largely devoted to grass and extends to 700 acres but 40 acres of winter wheat and spring barley are also grown. 250 acres of grass is used for silage and haylage production. Paul started breeding Stabilisers in 2003 to replace his Holstein cross cows. He was keen to improve longevity and fertility within the herd and attended an open day where he was impressed by the Stabiliser breed. He purchased 10 Stabiliser embryos, resulting in eight calves followed by a further 20 embryos to expand the herd. Production Cycle The Park House herd calves during a 12-week period from early March. Heifers are bred at 15 months of age and the majority of the cows and heifers hold in calf within the first two cycles. The cows are in-wintered and are fed ad-lib silage and straw and after calving they are given good quality silage. Young stock is fed silage, straw and home-grown crimped cereal supplemented with minerals. Bulls are intensively finished at between 12 and 14 months old. 10


Performance recording increases demand Paul has been performance recording from the start. As his objective is to sell breeding stock, he feels it’s important for the herd to be recorded. He said “There is more demand for performance recorded cattle and they achieve better prices.” Paul produces his own female replacements to improve and build herd numbers. When selecting females he looks for longevity, good udders, sound feet and correct locomotion He selects his bulls that have high beef values, good calving values and exhibit physical correctness. In order to continue the progress of the herd, he is keen to use bulls with beef values in the top 10 or 1 per cent of the breed. While the focus has been on building up the herd, in the future he intends to market more high value breeding stock to commercial farmers. Commenting on the herd, EBLEX breeding services manager, Sam Boon, said: “The genetic merit of the Park House herd has increased from a Beef Value of 11 to nearly 19 in the last 12 months. This was, in part, due to the use of stock bull, Wraycastle Lewis, as well as a homebred bull Park House Ken, both of which have very good calving, carcase and maternal breeding values. “Now numbers have increased Paul is able to start selecting for animals with high figures, meaning that some of the poorer cows have now left the herd. This coupled with the high merit bulls he is using is undoubtedly making a positive difference in his herd.” Paul added: “I’m very pleased with this award and appreciate the recognition it brings. Looking ahead, my strategy is to continue to improve and maintain an ability to select animals within the top one per cent of the breed, or certainly the top 10 per cent.” Richard Fuller

2013 Irish National Ploughing Championships The Irish National Ploughing Match is the largest annual agricultural event in Ireland showcasing Irish food, farming and culture. The event incorporates all sectors of agriculture from machinery to impressive displays demonstrating livestock breeds, animal husbandry and management, forestry, bio-energy, business management and regulatory bodies. The 2013 venue was at Ratheniska, Stradbally, County Laois. The site covers at least 700 acres and part of this has to be stubble for use in the ploughing match. The three day event attracts about 189,000 visitors. This was a fact finding visit to see whether it would be worthwhile for BIG to attend with a stand in the future and to meet Philip Crowe from Powerful Genetics who has been contracted to market Stabiliser semen in Ireland by Cogent. Philip is keen to start marketing semen from Givendale Norseman this autumn. He is very confident that the Stabiliser has a significant role to play in the Irish suckler industry. 11


Philip set up Powerful Genetics in 2005. The company's mission was then and is now to select the very best bulls, from the best herds and to make them available to Irish pedigree breeders and commercial suckler farmers.

Contact details Philip Crowe Powerful Genetics Lisenanagh Carrigan Co. Cavan Ireland Mobile: (086) 0743931 Email: powerfulgenetics@eircom.net

BIG/Cogent Semen Marketing Agreement The first year of this very important and successful agreement has seen a 74% rise in the volume of Stabiliser semen sales. Three proven, high performance Stabiliser™ bulls are currently included in the stud – Weighton Wold Merlin, Givendale Louie and Crugeran Llewelyn. In addition a limited quantity of semen is still available from Givendale Lorenzo and the highly popular Givendale Gold. Givendale Norseman is the new introduction this autumn.

Givendale Norsemen at 13 months old 12


Norseman is a young, unproven sire with outstanding potential. He is bred from renowned high growth and easy calving maternal blood lines in the USA. His Calving Value and Beef Value rank in the top 1% of the breed and his Maternal Production Value is in the top 5%. Norseman is recommended for use on heifers and he has the potential to produce ideal replacement heifers. His semen is qualified for export to Northern and Southern Ireland. To place orders with Cogent please contact:Gareth Scott – Beef Sales Manager Office – 01244 622061 Mobile – 07584 683362 Please allow at least 18 days for delivery. So place your orders in good time.

Stabiliser™ Steers from Snipe House Robert Robinson sent 80 Stabiliser steers to the NFE Wold Farm Unit at the end of July. They were sired by 10 different sire lines whose relatives had already been tested. Collecting data on related animals adds additional information to increase the reliability and accuracy of the NFE values. After arriving from Snipe House, where they had been grazing since the spring, they went through the usual acclimatisation period before the 60 day trial started. The performance of this group of steers was particularly impressive as the data below shows but most striking is the difference between the top growth steer and the bottom one. The NFE values will be published when they are available.

Richard Fuller

A group of Snipe House steers in the NFE Unit 13


RATION MOLASSES STRAW & MINS MAIZE DISTILLERS SUGAR BEET PULP BARLEY MAIZE SILAGE TOTAL

KG 1 1.3 2.4 1.2 4 20 29.9

Steer Live Data -

From 01/08/13 – 24/10/13 (time in unit) Live-weight DLWG Period gain 71days Feed intake

Average 631.63kg 1.90kg 135kg 1914.30kg

Highest 696 2.53 180 2324.60

Lowest 528 1.55 82 1542.15

Carcase Grades -U4L R4L R3 R4H R5L O+3 O+4L O+4H

Steer Carcase Data Average Age 17.9mths Dead-weight 341.86

Highest 19.01mths 372.6

Lowest 16.29mths 297.7

2 46 4 20 3 1 3 1

BIG Net Feed Efficiency Project BIG continues to run the five-year Net Feed Efficiency (NFE) project at Wold Farm with the aim of measuring NFE in Stabiliser cattle to identify those animals that eat less feed for the same daily live weight gain which has the effect of reducing production costs. The project is funded by the Technology Strategy Board’s Sustainable Protein Production Competition and is made up of consortium partners BIG, JSR, SAC and Keenan. Morrisons/Woodhead’s are also contributing by providing retail value and meat samples for quality analysis on the progeny of sires and steers tested for NFE. The project is completing its second year with the seventh batch of Stabiliser bulls currently on test in the unit. 6 batches have been completed:Stabiliser Bulls 240

Stabiliser Steers

Beef Shorthorn Bulls

198

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9 batches still to test during the remaining 3 years of the project = 720 animals Identifying superior NFE sire lines The identification of superior blood lines for NFE is a slow and expensive process. Large numbers of records are required to build up an accurate data set which can then be used to create a Stabiliser EBV for NFE. However early trends can be identified using the rankings of related animals in a number of trials. 14


Crugeran Llewelyn has been identified using this process. He is also in the top 1% of the breed for Calving Value and Beef Value and in the top 5% for Maternal Production Value. His semen is being marketed by Cogent and he is also being promoted by Asda to their BeefLink Producer Group.

High Feed Efficient bull – Crugeran Llewelyn

Fourth Trial Results The fourth trial of 80 Stabiliser bulls finished on the 28th February 2013. On average the low 1/3 NFE bulls consumed 15% less feed/day, were approximately 13% more efficient at converting feed into LWG and cost £24 less to feed over the 12 week trial period, compared with high 1/3 NFE bulls.

Summary NFE and performance data

DMI (kg/d) DLWG (kg/d) Mean LW (kg) Fat depth (mm) FCR (kg DMI:LWG) NFE (kg/d) Cost deviation from average (£ per 12 weeks on test centre) @ feed cost of £165/t DM

Low NFE 9.85 1.68 483 4.3 5.9 -0.67 -£12

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Average 10.74 1.70 499 4.3 6.4 0.00 0

High NFE 11.63 1.73 512 4.3 6.8 +0.69 +£12


Figure 1 NFE graph for Batch 4 Stabiliser bulls

Fifth Trial Results The fifth batch of 41 Stabiliser bulls and 34 Shorthorn bulls finished test on 13th June 2013. On average the low 1/3 NFE bulls consumed 13% less feed/day, were approximately 14% more efficient in converting feed into LWG and cost £23 less to feed over the 12 week trial period, compared with high 1/3 NFE bulls. Table 1 Summary NFE and performance data for the fifth batch DMI (kg/d) DLWG (kg/d) Mean LW (kg) Fat depth (mm) FCR (kg DMI:LWG) NFE (kg/d) Cost deviation from average (£ per 12 weeks on test centre) @ feed cost of £165/t DM

Low NFE 11.10 1.93 532 3.7 5.9 -0.94 -£12

Average 11.98 1.90 530 3.7 6.4 0.01 0

High NFE 12.79 1.91 519 3.5 6.8 +0.98 +£11

Figure 1 NFE graph for Batch 5. Stabiliser & Beef Shorthorn bulls

Richard Fuller 16


Skelton Farming Ltd John Aynsley took over as farm manager at Skelton Farming Ltd in July 2011. The 3000 acre Skelton Estate is owned by Mr Wharton and is situated on the north eastern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. The land lies between 620 and 800 feet above sea level and is mainly exposed to the North Sea as it rises up to the edge of heather moorland. Cereals and oil seed rape are grown on half the land, the other half is dedicated to grassland, both for grazing and conservation, mainly as silage. When John arrived there was an ageing 160 cow herd of mixed breeds calving over a 6 month period, with Limousin bulls being used as terminal sires. There was also an enterprise grazing and finishing bought-in store cattle. John was keen to establish a more productive and uniform cow type so early in 2012 he visited Givendale to look at the Stabiliser herd, he then made up his mind to go down the Stabiliser route. Since then John has bought 330 Stabiliser bred females and a team of 8 Stabiliser bulls. His aim is to build up to a 500 cow herd with bull calves being finished entire while a proportion of heifers will be retained, the remainder will be sold as replacements to other breeders. John says, ‘I was first attracted to the Stabiliser through my association with Robert Robinson and what he has achieved at Snipe House and who incidentally I used to play rugby with’. He added that ‘the whole Stabiliser concept makes sense and they are great cattle to work with too. They are also robust so they can deal with the fairly harsh weather we can get on these hills.’

John Aynsley discusses his herd development plan with Ursula

John’s main priorities are:• Improved fertility • Ease of management, for example, good calving ease and quiet temperament • Easy care is vital as the estate covers a big area • Closed herd policy reduces disease risk 17


• •

Need cows that work to make a profit Profitability is down to minimising costs and maximising output per cow mated

Several of my friends have asked me ‘why on earth are you going down the Stabiliser route?’ I say to them, ‘you go to Givendale to look at that Stabiliser herd and come back and tell me why I shouldn’t!’ John adds,’ it seems to me that some people have preconceived ideas without the knowledge of the true facts, but I am looking forward to developing a great herd of profitable cows.’ He has got off to an encouraging start as his first 58 bull calves have just been weaned at 209 days old weighing an average of 304.5 kg. Richard Fuller

Cattle Pricing Cattle prices broke records again in 2013 with the GB national R4L average reaching a peak of £4.095 w/e 13th July. The reduction of suckler cow numbers in England and Scotland is having a significant effect on the supply and demand balance and this had the effect of driving prices to their current levels. In England suckler cow numbers have decreased by 200,000 in the past 8 years and the national herd has fallen 40,000 in the past 2 years. A positive sign from a recent DEFRA survey indicates that the number of heifers over 2 years old have significantly increased, a proportion of which will be retained as breeding replacements. Cow numbers in Scotland have also significantly fallen, mainly as a result of the horrendous weather conditions over the last 2 years which has led to feed shortages and harsh decisions to cull unproductive stock. The graph below shows the GB National R4L cattle price published by the AHDB

Ursula Taylor

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BIG / Morrisons Yearling Beef Scheme The BIG / Morrisons Yearling Beef Scheme (YBS) has been running for a year with 438 marketed during that period. Morrisons have been very pleased with the results so far and are keen to expand the numbers. Although some cattle did not fit the exact specifications, Morrisons are very pleased with the uniformity of the carcases and quality of the meat and these plus points have also gone down well with the boning hall manager. Benefits for Producers • •

More competitive. Yearling beef production costs are up to 30% less for bulls compared with steers for carcases of the same weight More income. Premiums are paid for bulls in specification

Benefits for Morrisons • •

More consistent quality. Tight specifications help improve consistency and meat quality Lower carbon footprint. Yearling beef claims a lower carbon footprint than longer systems producing steers

Benefits for Customers • •

Healthier option. Beef from lean young bulls is healthier than fattier steer meat More competitive Yearling beef production costs are considerably lower than for steers

Carcase Specifications • • • • • • •

Breed Sex Carcase weight Carcase weight Minimum fat Target Fat Age

Stabiliser Entire males Target minimum – 320kg Target maximum – 380kg 3 4L 12 months to maximum 14 months (MUST BE over 12 months or deductions will apply)

Premiums and transport costs will be paid on bulls achieving the correct specifications. A pricing schedule for this scheme is available based on Woodhead’s weekly bull grid. Management protocols are also available from BIG as a management tool to help achieve the desired specifications. Please contact Ursula for details. All bulls for this scheme must be booked through Ursula at BIG on 07790 018637 Ursula Taylor

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Meat Quality Assessments Since December 2012, meat samples taken from the animals that have been trialled through the Net Feed Efficiency (NFE) unit at Wold Farm have been analysed at the JSR Food Quality Centre. This work has been carried out as an element of the trials being funded by the Technology Strategy Board. A percentage of animals from each trial have been sampled at slaughter by taking a 2 inch thick sirloin steak from each of the 5th rib. This sample has then been aged, weighed and cooked to a specified internal temperature with the maximum temperature during resting being recorded prior to re-weighing and the sample cut down for analysis through the Tenderscot™ machine. Bull Meat vs Steer Meat There is now enough data to compare the Cooking Loss, Slice Shear Force (on plate tenderness) and Bite Force (in mouth tenderness) of samples taken from bulls and steers. The data has been analysed so that date of slaughter has been factored in so that any variation due to seasonality is removed. The maximum end point temperature has also been factored in because we know that as internal temperature increases tenderness decreases. Figure 1: Objective measures of meat quality: Bulls vs. Steers NS

** NS

Figure 1 shows that whilst there is no significant difference between bulls and steers with regards to Cooking Loss or Slice Shear Force there is a significant difference (P=0.003) between bull and steer beef when comparing Bite Force, with bull beef being significantly more tender.

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These results represent the meat tenderness of the product as the consumer will have experienced after purchasing from the shelf. The age at slaughter specifications for bulls (>12 months & < 14 months) is younger than for steers (>16 months & < 30 months) so there is a narrower age range within the bull beef data set. This means that the bull meat assessed is from younger animals than the steer meat. As a result of this, the next stage of data analysis was to factor age of slaughter into the comparison. Scientifically we know that meat from older animals is tougher than meat from younger animals due to higher levels of connective tissue in the older animals. Assessment of muscle fats Samples were taken by Morrisons from 15 Stabiliser bulls and were analysed at Bristol University for total fat and saturated fat levels. The test analyses fat in the muscle portion of the sirloin. LOW

Fat 3g per 100g

LOW

Saturates 1.5g per 100g

Figure 2: Objective measures of bull meat fat profiles Figure 2 shows that using the traffic light food labelling system anything that has less than 3% total fat (orange line) is classed as low and anything with less than 1.5% saturated fat (blue line) is also counted as low. We can see that of the 15 animals not a single animal had total fats above 2.5% and the saturated fat levels were 1% or below. This means that the meat assessed is considered to be extremely healthy when used as part of a balanced diet.

Traffic Light System for Food Quality (per 100g) Substance Fat Saturated fats Sugar Salt

Green (low)

Amber (medium)

Red (high)

less than 3g

between 3g and 20g

more than 20g

less than 1.5g between 1.5g and 5g

more than 5g

less than 5g between 5g and 12.5g more than 12.5g less than 0.3g between 0.3g and 1.5g

more than 1.5g

Caroline Mitchell â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Meat Scientist 21


Leachman Study Tour In mid-October 2013 a group of farmers and three ASDA/ABP employees embarked on a trip to Denver in Colorado as part of an ASDA Beef Link study tour. Our first stop was to visit the heart of Lee Leachman's seed stock business in Fort Collins which is north of Denver. Lee gave us an overview of his company, Leachman Cattle of Colorado (LCoC). He explained the strategic direction of his breeding programme which is based on the financial rewards he achieves from using the benefits of heterosis in his Stabiliser genetics. He then went on to demonstrate how he has developed his $Profit selection index with particular emphasis on how the impact of measuring feed efficiency has improved the profit margins of his bull customers and feed yard owners. We then had a walk through groups of LCoC bulls and heifers in the Feed Intake Facility. Nebraska AI Stud We then headed due north some 500 miles to a bull AI stud in Nebraska which was home to the aptly named â&#x20AC;&#x2DC; Leachman Prophetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; who has the highest ever recorded $Profit Index of $17,444. Prophet also broke the price record for a Stabiliser bull selling for $67,000 in Lee's 2013 Spring Bull Sale.

Leachman Prophet J030Z

Feed Intake Performance Test Leachman Prophet ate 7.5kg of DM/day, 2.7kg less than his contemporaries. Average DLWG of 1.6KG and weighed 90kg more than his contemporaries (800 bulls). ''Prophet J030Z could do more to improve the profitability of beef cattle production than any other bull in history. By capitalizing on his genetic lead time, breeders can move to the front of the pack over-night.'' Lee Leachman February 19th 2013. Black Stabiliser Leachman Co-operator We then headed further north into Nebraska to visit one of Lee's Co-operator seed stock breeders producing black Stabiliser bulls and heifers for the Leachman programme. This herd of over 600 cows was running on some pretty rugged terrain. The cows and calves looked fantastic with many of the calves nearly as big as their mothers. Red Stabiliser Leachman Co-operator Our next visit was to Sam Rempe, a long term customer and fieldsman of Lee Leachman. He has now incorporated his herd within the Leachman Red Stabiliser breeding programme. 22


Sam explained the sire line AI and embryo transfer programmes he has been carrying out to improve the performance his herd. He then went on to show us a group of recently weaned cows that were about to move to graze corn stalks for the winter. Corn stalks are the residue left on the fields after a maize crop has been harvested as grain.

Black Stabiliser cows and calves After weaning, the steer calves are moved into the Decator County Feed Yard in Kansas for background feeding for 3 months before being put on a high-powered finishing ration for the last 90 days before they are slaughtered.

A group of Sam's breeding heifers Decator Feed Yard in Kansas The feed yard manager explained the process of running the 40,000 head operation including diet formulation and costs and the logistics of handling and moving large numbers of cattle in and out of the facility. He also highlighted the huge savings that the Leachman high feed efficient bulls had made to the profitability of the yard with feed cost savings of up to 15%. It was clear to see the differences in the profitability of the Leachman bred cattle compared to the others in the yard. Conclusion All in all the group had a fantastic trip and even the more sceptic members could see all the advantages there are in identifying and selecting genetics that deliver improved feed efficient cattle. James Evans 23


BCMS Stabiliser™ Numbers

Breed

Stabiliser Numbers as of January 1st 2013 England Scotland Wales F M F M F M

STABILISER

4,509

2,348

1,084

397

1,659

747

STABILISER X

13,015

5,221

2,539

841

2,496

730

Total for 01/01/13 10,744 24,842

Events for your 2014 Diary • BIG NFE Open Day – April 23rd Wold Farm, Givendale • Beef Expo – May 21st Hexham Auction Market, Hexham • Beef South West - November 13th Exeter • Other Open Days to be arranged - will be updated on website

Contacts Richard Fuller 07970 097519 richard.fuller@jsr.co.uk

Ursula Taylor 07790 018637 ursula.taylor@jsr.co.uk www.bigbeef.co.uk

Givendale Ottis A promising young son of the leading high feed efficient sire, EGL Protégé 24

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