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New Beef Figures Highlight Extra Profit Opportunity
10/02/06

English beef producers have a major opportunity to improve returns and reduce costs in the post-subsidy world by finishing continental-cross stock in particular at a younger age, according to the latest English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) analyses of BCMS slaughter figures.

beef cattle

The initial 2005 BCMS prime cattle data reveal an average age at slaughter for all male animals (including young bulls and steers) of 619 days compared to 623 days in 2004. This suggests little change in the large proportion of stock - almost 50% - being slaughtered at over two years of age, or the 20%-plus being taken up to the 27-30 month age bracket. What is more, the figures show the average age at slaughter for females increasing year-on-year to a current 690 days.

Although some animals slaughtered up to May last year could still have been subject to BSP retention periods from the old subsidy system, this underlines the considerable opportunity many producers have to adapt their regimes to reduce finishing periods.

Detailed EBLEX analysis of commercial continental-cross steer and heifer slaughter performance have, for instance, revealed no worthwhile increases in average carcase weight beyond 23-24 months of age - and certainly not enough to pay for the average £1/day costs recorded in extensive beef finishing systems in 2004/05.

As well as being at increasing risk of over-fatness and over-weight penalties, older stock have also been shown to have a generally poorer conformation to their younger, faster-grown contemporaries.

With potential to save £30/month and earn valuable extra carcase returns from faster finishing, EBLEX advises producers to investigate ways of developing their established regimes to finish the majority of continental-cross steers and heifers at under two years of age. Especially so since the current generation of cross-bred cattle has the ability to grow fast enough to finish at an earlier age without compromising carcase weights.

In addition to allowing better feed conversion efficiencies, of course, faster finishing offers the opportunity to improve cash flow while spreading fixed costs over a larger number of animals and greater weight of beef each year.

link Farmers Warned On Older Cattle
link How To Be A Select Beef Producer
link Beef Outlook: Healthier Market Balance in Prospect

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