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Marketing cattle to optimise returns: Top tips for beef efficiency

With a depressed beef price, it has never been more important for producers to ensure they are doing everything possible to achieve the best possible return on their stock.

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Marketing cattle to optimise returns: Top tips for beef efficiency

Steve Powdrill, AHDB technical manager for beef and lamb, says: “It might have been said many times before, but knowing your market is key. There is no point producing something then having to decide where to sell it.

 

“Understand what your market is and what it requires, keeping the end consumer in mind at all times.

 

"For the industry to thrive, we have to encourage consumers to eat a balanced diet with meat forming a key component, and for that to happen we need to produce a consistently high quality product. Farmers have to take responsibility towards that.

 

“What you produce may need to change as markets evolve, but the type of cattle you keep will also depend on what suits your farm and your system.

 

“Consider breed or cross, taking into account killing out percentage and potential yield, as well as finishing weight and age, and if there are any premium schemes available.

 

“There are plenty of selling options: deadweight, through the auction market, marketing groups and collection centres, but make sure you match what you produce to the right outlet to maximise returns.

 

“Different markets have different requirements, but wherever you choose to sell, communication is key.

 

“Talk to the processor or auctioneer. Ensure you know exactly what you are being paid for, what deductions there are, what the specification is and terms of trade.”


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Top tips for beef efficiency

 

  • Handle and weigh cattle regularly to ensure they are sold at the optimum time; fat costs the producer money to put on and the processor money to take off and dispose of
  • Understand key handling points, as regular handling will reduce stress, which impacts on meat eating
  • In nutrition terms, different feeding regimes can impact on meat flavour as well as fat. Feeding barley will produce white fat, whereas cattle fed on more extensive forage-based systems will have creamy fat
  • Aim for an even plane of nutrition to take advantage of the animal’s growth rate. Store periods can lead to gristle development and meat from older animals is generally tougher
  • Understand different classification systems, pricing grids and dressing specifications
  • Visit an abattoir to learn about the whole slaughter process and different procedures, such as electrical stimulation, hip suspension and maturation
  • Wherever possible get feedback from the buyer or abattoir; study kill sheets and see where improvements can be made
  • Present clean cattle for slaughter to avoid deductions for contamination, which can also be caused by excessive gut fill, so do not feed cattle immediately prior to sending for slaughter
  • In terms of welfare, bruising, injection sites and stress can all impact on meat quality and lead to deductions
  • Animal health issues, such as liver fluke, can lead to rejection of the liver, reducing the value of carcases

 

Source: Steve Powdrill, AHDB

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