British Cattle Breeders’ Club Conference 2018

The British Cattle Breeders Club’s (BCBC) annual two-and-a-half day conference for 2018 will host an exciting line-up of experts and farmers from around the world, who will speak on a wide variety of scientific and practical topics related to cattle breeding.

The event which takes place 22nd -24th January 2018 at the Telford Hotel & Golf Resort, Telford in Shropshire will mark the 70th anniversary of the Club, which was formed in 1948.

BCBC president, Mike Coffey front left and outgoing president, Dr Maurice Bichard in middle

BCBC president, Mike Coffey front left and outgoing president, Dr Maurice Bichard in middle

The move to encourage young people into farming has inspired the topics for next year’s Conference, which carries the theme of ‘Farming and Genetics – Let’s Inspire the Next Generation.’ The packed programme will begin at 1pm on Monday, 22 January, with AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) representatives giving an overview of its proposed post-2020 business strategies. It will be led by the organisation’s Adam Quinney and Gwyn Jones.

Later in the afternoon, Mike Coffey of SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College), who is the BCBC president, will examine how strategic breeding policies might address some of the long-term issues facing cattle producers. Delegates at the event will also learn about the latest genetic developments planned for 2018, including carcase trait breeding values for beef and dairy, as well as feed intake recording for beef cattle.

Among the speakers on the Tuesday is Professor David Kenny, principal research scientist in ruminant nutritional physiology at the Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre in County Meath, Ireland. His presentation will be based on the management of cows for optimum fertility.

Professor Kenny will point out that herd fertility and health are the main factors in determining suckler herd profitability. In Ireland, evidence suggests that more than 80% of heifer replacements fail to meet the target 24 months of age at first calving. In addition, the average interval between calving frequently exceeds 400 days and only eight out of every 10 spring-calving cows produce a calf within a 12-month period. He will outline a number of options which have the potential to improve performance and profitability.

Wednesday will see Professor John Dupre giving a presentation on the ethical issues which may arise following scientific advances in gene editing. He will dispel some of the myths surrounding the process and explain how the use of the hornless gene, for example, could improve animal welfare. He believes the technique will be available in the “not-too-distant” future.

The student presentations are always popular and on beef day, Orla Kelly will focus on the challenges posed by the management of a profitable suckler herd in the post-Brexit environment. Ms Kelly, an award-winning student at Queens University, Belfast, will give a presentation which suggests that the Beef Shorthorn is a breed which can command a premium and has a lot to offer in a future without support payments.

The dairy day line-up also includes North Yorkshire producer, Roger Hildreth, who will describe all aspects of milk production at Curlew Fields, near York, but with special attention paid to the breeding of heifers and genomic testing. His business is run with profit per cow place at the forefront of management decisions and the farm is one of the AHDB’s ‘Calf to Calving’ hosts.


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