Steve Nesbitt backs
Nesbitt remains quietly optimistic about the future of the UK's
beef industry under the new Single Farm Payment regime.
“Like any other sector undergoing major change, those who
decide to stay in business will be profit driven,” he says. “To
maximise returns, they'll be forced to produce a high performing
quality beast, and there is evidence that trend is already starting
to kick in.
“Within the first few weeks of 2005, trade for quality Charolais
crosses is looking stronger than ever,” he said. “The
gap between Charolais crosses and other continental crosses has
started to widen even further as finishers realize that Charolais
cross cattle are streets a head on growth rate.
“Charolais crosses will reach target weight from 15 months
onwards, and compared with other continental crosses they will
achieve at least 50kg growth advantage over the same time period,
a yield worth more than £60 which will go a long way towards
covering the loss of the second BSP payment,” said Steve
who together with his father, Doug and brother, David runs Alwent
Hall, an owner occupier farm near Winston, just a stone's
throw over the North Yorkshire border.
The Nesbitts have over the years placed their eggs in more than
one basket which is enabling them now to be better placed to adjust
to the new regime.
Alwent comprises a 200 acre mix of grassland and arable, it carries
a prize winning flock of 120 pedigree Texel ewes, and redundant
farm buildings have been converted to workshops and facilities
for Pye Bibby's regional retail outlet.
However, it is the family's 40 cow pedigree Charolais herd
producing high performance bulls for the suckler sector, as well
as for other breeders, that Steve says will continue to remain
at the heart of the business.
“We established the herd 25 years ago as a hobby, however
it has evolved to become a serious commercial venture that nowadays
makes up a significant part of our overall farm income. In fact
Charolais is now by far my biggest interest and the herd is here
to stay until I pack up farming.
“For starters, Charolais is beyond doubt the superior beef
breed on performance; it leaves calves that are naturally fleshed
and with that unbeatable weight for age.
“Charolais crosses are most cost effective, regardless of
appetite, simply because they have that genetic ability to convert
feed at a much higher rate and at an earlier age than any other
Continental crosses,” he said.
“And that's a real benefit which will be increasingly
to the fore in future as finishers adopt more intensive systems
to realize their animals' potential and subsequently higher
margins. “However, I think the breed will also have a real
role to play in more extensive suckler beef systems, those requiring
less labour and other inputs which we're also likely to see
being adopted under the new regime.
“Apart from having the performance edge in a low input system,
Charolais cross calves have a quiet temperament, and over the years
great strides have been made in improving ease of calving, and
through BLUP we are able to recognize those easier calving lines.”
Calving ease, together with growth rate and fleshing ability are
the main performance traits the Nesbitts have carefully selected
for in the last five years ensuring they deliver bulls that match
Today the Alwent herd is among the breed leaders in the north
east with all its progeny heading towards being within the breed's
top 15pc for both Beef and Calving Values.
“Our goal is to offer naturally fed bulls with an average
400 day daily liveweight gain of 1.65kg to 1.7kg. We are firm believers
in selling through the ring in Perth and Carlisle, however in the
last couple of years we've had an unprecedented demand at
the farm gate,” added Steve.
The Nesbitt's former herd sire, Baggrave Minstrel has had
a major influence at Alwent and left a number of top flight progeny
including Alwent Peregrin who lifted the Royal and Great Yorkshire
interbreed junior championships; the 13,000gns Royal Highland junior
champion, Alwent Osprey; and the Carlisle Christmas Cracker champion,
Alwent Orchid who sold for 6,800gns.
More recently, to maintain scale within the herd, they made a
joint purchase of the 28,000gns Perth champion, Maerdy Primeminister
and the investment is already paying off with one of his sons,
Alwent Triad taking the Carlisle senior championship in May 2004,
and last October, Alwent Ultimate lifted the Perth junior and overall
reserve title. The herd's latest addition is Hallbankgate
United which was carefully selected for growth, with a Beef Value
of CH34 and 400 day weight of 770kg and also calving ease, CV+1.
Steve is scheduled to achieve one of his ambitions later this
year when he judges the British Charolais Cattle Society's
official show at Perth in October. However there are other goals
still pending including winning the Royal and going on to 'nail' the
Burke Trophy for the best beef interbreed pair.
North East man to judge Perth Charolais cattle