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Stackyard News Nov 09

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ASDA Launch BeefLink Education and Demonstration Farm

A groundbreaking new approach to help British beef farmers increase productivity and profitability is being launched by ASDA in conjunction with processors ABP with the announcement of the first ASDA BeefLink Education and Demonstration farm.

Jim Viggars & Mike Powley

Jim Viggars Mike Powley

The host farmers for this exciting and unique development are the Farmers Weekly’s, 2005 Beef Farmer of the Year winners, father and son, Tom and Mike Powley, Green Hammerton, Yorkshire.

The initiative will be publicly launched at a series of ASDA BeefLink producer group meetings throughout December and January at which Mike Powley will explain key components of his farming policy to farmers.

“The main aim will be to encourage up and coming young farmers into Beef farming, by showing them first hand how we are able to produce quality, suckler bred beef at a profit, focussing on key parts of the yearly production cycle,” explains Mr Powley.

And a rapidly increasing and exciting part of this profitable production cycle is the use of sexed semen to increase the quality of suckler replacements and ultimately the profitability of finishing stock.

“We’ve used female sexed Limousin semen to produce heifer replacements for the first time this year and are delighted with the results; conception rates were only marginally lower than conventional semen but we achieved a 100% female hit rate, allowing us to continue breeding from our best cow lines.

“We are now progressing to the next step of using the world’s first commercially available male sexed semen from renowned Limousin bull Sauvignon to produce bull calves for finishing. Sauvignon combines ease of calving with an exceptional carcass and great performance. By selecting only the best breeding cows to produce replacements and inseminating the remaining cows with male semen we will be able to maximise income from finished cattle by reducing the number of heifers we have to finish. At the moment heifer production is significantly less profitable than bull beef finishing.”

On top of that, with fewer heifers needing a second summer at grass, Mr Powley hopes to be able to increase cow numbers further and ensure a sustainable future for the business.

Once established the ASDA BeefLink education and demonstration farm at the Powley’s unit will enable other ASDA/ABP suppliers to attend workshops and open days aimed at helping them increase productivity and profitability. Topics being covered will include grassland management, meeting processor requirements and breeding.

ASDA’s senior meat trader Jim Viggars says the launch of the education and development farm is the next stage in the company’s commitment to help educate younger entrants and help them improve production efficiency and sustainability.

“We are also committed to help ASDA employees understand the beef supply chain and how British farmers operate. Alongside this we also hope the education and demonstration farm will enable more schoolchildren to visit a UK beef farm and appreciate the benefits of UK farming.”

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