Bid to boost Welsh productivity
Published:  08 September, 2008

Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is holding a series of autumn roadshow meetings to help Welsh farmers improve the productivity and quality of their cattle.

The meetings - held as part of the European funded Welsh Beef Quality Improvement Scheme - will focus on maximising productivity from beef herds by utilising superior genetics, ensuring good herd health and maintaining efficient cost control. They will be delivered for HCC by George Caldow and Ian Pritchard of SAC.

The first meeting will be held at Bryncir Market, Gwynedd on Thursday 25 September at 3pm. Calves from two bulls purchased through the WBQIP will also be on show from Geraint Roberts, Llystun Ganol, Garndolbenmaen, who bought a Black Limousin bull and also Geraint Roberts of Maenllwyd, Pencaenewydd, Pwllheli, who bought a Charollais bull.

Accordding to HCC, selecting bulls with superior genetics can improve returns from each calf by as much as £46.50 through increased daily liveweight gains, heavier slaughter weights and better killing out percentages than those sired by average bulls. Selecting bulls on performance figures can also enable farmers to select bulls with easy calving traits.

Dewi Hughes, the WBQIP Project Coordinator said: "Minimising calving difficulties cannot be overemphasised as they can do more to reduce herd output than many farmers realise.

"Difficult calvings reduce fertility in the cow because she invariably takes longer to get in calf again and it lengthens the calving period the following year.

"The health of the calf often also suffers, since being slow to get up and suckle it may not get the health protecting colostrum that is vital for ensuring the best possible start to life."

Infectious disease is a major cause of economic concern in any herd. Producers can suffer losses due to reductions in liveweight gain, poorer fertility, higher levels of cow and calf mortality and a reduction in milk. It is estimated that an outbreak of BVD can cost a herd of 100 cows on average £4,500 per year through lost productivity.