The recent ‘Live to Dead’ events, hosted by Dunbia for YFCU members, gave the meat processor’s management team in Dungannon an opportunity to discuss and demonstrate the types of stock that will secure premium prices for farmers at slaughter.
Two full days were dedicated to this innovative project: one for sheep and one for cattle. Each event provided the 50 young farmers of the future in attendance with the opportunity to assess stock live in the Dunbia lairage and, subsequently, post slaughter. Dunbia is a YFCU agri events partner.
One of the key messages communicated by Dunbia’s group agriculture manager Kenny Linton was the need for flockowners to assess lambs on a weekly basis in the period up to slaughter.
“The trade wants lambs with a carcass weight in the region 16 to 21 kilos,” he said.
“Weight is one issue: fat cover is equally important. Lambs should grade out in the range 2 to 3L.
“The reality is that it costs four times as much to lay down 1 kilo of fat as it does to put on 1 kilo of lean meat. Over fat lambs cost the farmer money: they are also a drain on the processor, as the extra fat has to be physically removed.”
Dunbia’s head of agriculture Dr Jonathan Birnie confirmed that the same principle holds, where beef cattle are concerned.
“Overfat cattle make nobody money,” he stressed.
“The objective must be for farmers to keep their stock in spec. In practical terms this means producing finished animals with a carcass weight of between 260 and 350 kilos with a fat score of around three.
“Processors can make best commercial use of animals that fall into this classification range. And, obviously, it is important for farmers to secure as much liveweight gain as possible from grazed grass. This is our cheapest feed source.”
Commenting on the success of the Live to Dead events, Heather Stewart, programmes manager at the YFCU said: “Our young farmers have enjoyed a unique experience at Dunbia’s Live to Dead event which will prove invaluable to them.
“This is first-hand knowledge that can’t be taught in college or learned in the fields which makes it so important and beneficial to our members. It is through events like this that we see the true value our agri-events partnership with Dunbia.”