Over 5,000 beef farmers and industry professionals flocked to Shrewsbury last week to the National Beef Associations’ ‘Beef Up Our Future’ Beef Expo event.
The event set out to discuss the future of agriculture and explore how beef farmers can improve efficiencies on farm profit and it did not fail to deliver.
For the fourth year running the Beef Expo farm tours were a sell out, with 270 hitting the road for a tour of three exceptional farms across Shropshire and Wales.
Across the three farms there was something for everyone, with Marc Jones finishing beef from the dairy through outwintering and precision grazing, James Evans producing quality breeding stock with a key focus on measuring performance and Jonny Cornes and family running a fantastic example of a mixed farming system.
Tractor and trailer rides took farmers round fields where grass production was maximised through precision grazing and experts spoke on topics spanning from breeding for efficiencies, to how the mixed farming model can be used to manage risk. A home-made beef lunch was provided by Moor farm shop with Hereford beef on the menu, to fuel the 270 farmers on their trip across the county.
After a quick turnaround, the Beef Industry Dinner kicked off in the stunning setting of Netley Hall. The three-course supper aptly featured roasts of beautifully cooked beef kindly sponsored by ABP, hand carved for guests at their table. Guest speaker Gareth Wyn Jones spoke of the importance of educating consumers as to how their food is produced, a message that will be ever more imperative as we move out of Europe and one that resonated with the audience.
The evening finished with a charity raffle in aid of muscular dystrophy, raising over £1000! Thank you to all who donated so generously.
Halls Shrewsbury Livestock Auction Market was unrecognisable, packed full with over 125 trade and breed society displays showcasing the very best of beef genetics, nutrition, technologies and more.
Congratulations to the award winning trade stands, judged by the farm tour hosts, Corteva picked up best indoor trade stand, with their innovative display of real grass. The Hereford cattle society once again triumphed on the breed display category for their display of cattle, both commercial and pedigree accompanied by excellent technical information. All of the outdoor stands deserve a congratulations for enduring the great British spring showers, however it was LM Bateman who scooped the top spot for its excellent display of machinery.
A fantastic selection of seminars covering health, policy and production systems ran throughout the day including a discussion on how TB can be managed in a way that allows for production to continue. Neil Parish, chair of the EFRA committee and Robin Manning, Team Leader for Farming and Trade, DEFRA starred in the Brexit seminar chaired by Chris Dodds. The seminar discussed the importance of maintaining cohesion and flexibility between the devolved governments post Brexit.
This year Beef Expo hosted, not one but two national cattle competitions, the NBA National Commercial Cattle show and the South Devons National Performance Championships.
Once again, an exceptional display of commercial cattle from across the length and breadth of the country were turned out to the highest of standards, ready to compete for their share of the NCCS £6500 of prize money.
Heifers dominated the championships. “Ayanna”, a British Blue owned by Trevor, Linda and Jonny Lyon, Bourne, Lincolnshire, snapped up Supreme Champion and Champion Heifer. Commenting, judge Neil Slack said: “This heifer stood out, with good lines and no waste. It was hard to fault, with good meat and a handy weight. The championship line-up was superb and there was not a lot between the top two.”
Bred by J. Reed of Northumberland, this 16-month British Blue cross heifer, weighing 498kg, was bought privately and is enjoying a successful show season so far, top of its class at Countryside Live, reserve champion at Woodall Spa and commercial beef champion at Newark.
Following closely behind was Limousin heifer ‘She’s a Diva’ owned by Phil and Sharon Sellers of Lincolnshire. The 14-month-old heifer weighed 554kg and picked up both Reserve Supreme Champion and Reserve Champion Heifer. By Lodge Hamlet, out of a Limousin cow and bred by G Lewis of Welshpool the heifer will be continuing the show circuit to Lincoln, Norfolk and the Royal Welsh shows this summer.
Champion Male was won by Mrs M Alford’s Limousin steer “No Likey”. The 11 month old, 520kg steer, who was bought for £2,500 at the Brecon Show potentials sale and is set to be shown next at the Royal Cornwall.
Reserve Male Champion was June 2017 born Limousin cross steer “Marley” owned by Wilkinson & Marwood of Leyburn and out of Waindale Ufo.
The Heifers continued to sweep the floor in the Baby Beef classes. Judge Michael Alford found his Baby Beef Champion in Limousin cross heifer “Scarlet” owned by Morgan and Jones. The 19-month-old, 350kg heifer turned heads as it set foot in the show ring for the first time. The heifer was bought privately from by B Hughes of Lampeter and bred from by a Limousin bull out of a Lim x BB cow. Speaking of his decision, he said: “It was a very correct animal, with smooth lines and a lot of potential.”
“Little Gem” was close behind claiming reserve baby beef champion. Bought in the Ruthin Show Potentials show the autumn the eight-month-old heifer is owned by Phil and Sharon Sellers and bred by PJ & TA Jones of Powys.
The Young Handlers Competition was also hotly contested. After much deliberation, Ted Lloyd claimed first place, closely followed by Buddug Sian Davies in second.
All the Championship prizes were kindly sponsored by Crystalyx.
Beef Expo once again proudly hosted the South Devon Technical Performance Championships. The competition which judges cattle based on both Breedplan performance figures and inspection is a great example how technology can be utilised to enhance breed genetics and progression.
Judge G. H. Tully of Brixton, Devon, a renowned South Devon breeder and exhibitor himself, selected AI x Rufford Sas Quest owned by R.W. and S.M Bostelmann as his supreme champion. A great success for the January 2017 homebred bull by Rufford Sas Dillion and out of AI Z Rufford Erica on its first outing and is set to compete again in Suffolk and Shropshire this summer.
Speaking about his champion Mr Tully said: “This was a very correct bull, smooth fleshed and beautiful balance. An excellent type which will go on to breed very well the future.”
Z Cilgwrrwg Cariad owned by Richard Hartshorn, Telford was awarded reserve champion. The polled heifer, born in May 2017 by Z Eyton Trusty 3, out of Cilgwrrwg Sas Xanthippe, the May-2017 born polled heifer is from six generations of homebred dams and was on its first outing.
The winner of the Beef Farmer competition was Tracey Jones and her two twin sons Ryan and Craig (13) who helped her bag the top prize of a grass plate meter donated by Agricultural Supply Services and Crystalyx UK Easy Breather.
Tracey triumphed over the other 36 entrants in the challenge which included, carcass grading, guess the weight of the animal, selection of bulls on EBVs, grassland calculations and health programme design.
The family had a successful day all round having bred the heifer which was crowned reserve champion baby beef earlier in the morning.