Sheep and beef producers in the West Midlands are being offered a significant opportunity to improve their businesses by attending practical events being staged as part of a new regional advisory initiative.
Funded by LandSkills West Midlands, as part of the Rural Development Programme for England, the Better Returns West Midlands project is being delivered jointly by EBLEX and ADAS for beef and sheep farmers in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcester. Following on from an earlier EBLEX project in the region, this new initiative will feature ten focus farms – two per county – where physical and financial business performance assessments will be used to illustrate the importance of health planning and all-round best practice.
As EBLEX regional manager and project manager for this initiative Clive Brown explains, the project aims to provide training and knowledge transfer across a wide range of themes and be practical and accessible for all producers in the region.
“The focus farms are distributed evenly across the region and have been selected because they can illustrate how to deal with challenges that are common to the majority of beef and sheep businesses in their area,” he explains.
“Breeding, feeding, fertility and selection/marketing will all be covered within the programme, whilst particular attention will be given to herd and flock health as this is the cornerstone of all livestock enterprises. ADAS Livestock Specialists will be involved directly in flock and herd health planning, alongside the farms’ own veterinary practices, and on-going business monitoring and assessment will be used to illustrate the cost benefits of best practice.”
Each host farm will stage three events per year for the duration of the project – which is planned to run to July 2012 – and producers will be invited to take part in focus groups linked to the farms and implement their own health plans and costing programs. The project will also organise additional knowledge transfer events throughout the region and facilitate training days such as ‘live-to-dead’ demonstrations at local abattoirs to improve skills such as selection and direct meat retailing. Access to study trips and further technical bulletins will also form part of the schedule of activity.
LandSkills West Midlands, which is managed by Lantra on behalf of Advantage West Midlands, is supporting the Better Returns West Midlands project to give the region’s beef and sheep farmers pointers on how to improve their livestock businesses in five broad areas:
- Health and fertility
- Selection and marketing
- Systems and costings.
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