Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Activities across AHDB Beef & Lamb during 2017…

With 2018 looming, we look back at key AHDB Beef & Lamb activity during 2017.

Looking back to January, we started our recruitment for our Selection Academy. The aim was to find a number of beef & lamb experts that could help us to spread our messages around selecting the right stock for slaughter through events in their regions. We now have a team of nine selection specialists across the country who have all started to run events. Search for a specialist in your region.




February saw the Meat Education Programme take home the prize for the Best Training Initiative at the Food Management Today Industry Awards, for addressing a lack of accessible training for professionals working in the meat industry. The Meat Education Programme aims to help both individuals and businesses enhance their knowledge and understanding of the preparation and cooking of meat, and provide them with certification recognised by the meat industry.
Dr Phil Hadley, AHDB International Market Development Director, was awarded with one of the highest accolades in the meat industry in recognition of his longstanding commitment to the meat sector. Dr Hadley was presented with a Fellowship of the Institute of Meat at The Institute of Meat and Worshipful Company of Butchers Annual Prize-Giving.
We held our Halal Seminar, back in February with more than 80 delegates attending from the sector to discuss the key issues and opportunities. We saw presentations from a range of halal specialists including a talk from Professor Joe Regenstein, a leading halal expert, who looked at how the halal sector can meet consumer needs. We also welcomed our new halal Sector Manager, Awal Fuseini, who is helping us to focus on the needs of the halal industry.



In Spring we launched the search for Strategic farms across the country. As part of our wider Farm Excellence work, the farms will aim to demonstrate clear advances in on-farm productivity by monitoring performance and implementing best practice. With 13 farms on-board, we’ve now had launch meetings across the farms and have more events planned for the next year.

Great British Beef Week, a high-profile campaign to increase sales of beef & lamb by encouraging consumers to purchase mini roasts took place in April. The campaign reached 22 million households through TV, press and digital activity, adding £1.3 million in mini roast sales.

The summer saw the launch of RB209 at the Grassland & Muck event. The manual offers best practice guidance on the application of mineral fertilisers, manures and slurries to crops and grassland. We also ran Brexit 360, a number of panel discussions with AHDB experts that explored the impacts of Brexit one year on for UK agriculture and horticulture. The videos are available on the AHDB’s Youtube channel and are complimented by AHDB’s suite of Horizon publications that give an overview of Brexit and potential scenarios for what the agricultural and horticultural sectors could look like in a post –Brexit landscape.

In October we launched the Challenge Sheep project and recruited 13 farms to take part in a project to track and evaluate the consequences of the rearing phase on the lifetime performance of ewes. We have now had all the launch events and look forward to drilling into the detail of the data at discussion groups throughout 2018.
We announced a €10 million campaign to boost lamb consumption over the next three years. The campaign is a joint venture between France, England and Ireland, and means AHDB secured a €10 million campaign for a €1 million investment, to support the lamb sector. We also launched our SQQ survey that seeks opinions from those working in the sheep sector. The survey runs until 31 December – so you still have time to take part.



The last major beef & lamb event of the year was our annual AHDB Beef & Lamb Stakeholder Conference, which looked at how the beef & lamb industry can make preparations to be ‘fit for the future’. We heard from experts across AHDB, as well as a number of guest speakers. You can view snippets from the presentations here.
For AHDB Beef & Lamb activity throughout the year why not sign up to our monthly e-news?


Happy New Year from all at AHDB Beef & Lamb.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Interested in DIY Artificial Insemination?

Before joining AHDB, Amy Fawcett AHDB Beef & Lamb Knowledge Exchange Manager worked with cattle as an Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer Technician for most of her career. She now leads on a number of AI projects within AHDB.

Earlier in the year we funded a number of artificial insemination (AI) courses across the country, run by XL Vets Training Services and Westpoint Farm Vets. They were so popular with producers that we have approved funding for a further 250 places.
We had 80 expressions of interest for 50 course places. I know that giving producers the ability to perform AI themselves enables them to serve cattle at the correct time and reduces service costs, while putting them in control of their own breeding strategies.
Traditionally AI isn’t widely used on suckler farms, but I know from experience that the rate of genetic gain that can be achieved within a herd by using AI is incredible. The cost of a straw of semen from a bull with good, high reliability EBVs is a fraction of the cost of buying and keeping a bull on farm.
Using AI enables producers to select bulls that are suited to their herd’s breeding programme and is an ideal way to introduce different bloodlines into the herd. Sires can be chosen for both maternal and terminal traits and sexed semen is now available for some high maternal value beef sires, enabling producers to breed their own superior replacement heifers. Using AI sires to breed replacements also removes the need to replace stock bulls when it’s time to serve their daughters.
Although using AI can seem like more work than simply running a stock bull, there are numerous suckler herds across the country that are doing it successfully, both with the use of synchronisation programmes and from observing natural heats. Everyone I have spoken to that is using AI would now never look back, as the quality of calves coming through far outweighs the bit of extra management required to get cows in calf. They also say they are better than those from any stock bull they could afford to buy.
Funding is available until March 2020 to suckler producers with 30 or more breeding females, with 50% of the course cost covered by AHDB Beef & Lamb.

This work fits in with our 2017-2020 strategy and one of our priorities is driving greater on-farm uptake of superior genetics by increasing the use and understanding of estimated breeding values. Enabling producers to perform AI on farm means they have the potential to improve profitability by increasing the genetic potential of their herd.
Hear first-hand from James Shouler, a suckler producer from Oxfordshire, who attended a course in 2017. In this short video he talks about the benefits of being able to perform AI on his herd.
I also ran a webinar looking at the practicalities of Artificial Insemination and synchronisation in the suckler herd last March, which you can watch on our YouTube channel.
Funding is also be available to final year agriculture students who can demonstrate how they will use the skills gained on the course in their future career.
Any students applying for funding should download and complete a short application form and return it to amy.fawcett@ahdb.org.uk

For more information, including how to book on a course, see beefandlamb.org.uk/returns