NBA launch series of Regional Open Meetings

Steven Sandison from Orkney
Steven Sandison from Orkney

The National Beef Association (NBA) has launched a series of free Regional Open Meetings which are open to anyone with an interest in the beef industry.

The inaugural NBA Northern Open Meeting will be held at Borderway Mart, Carlisle, at 7.00pm on Tuesday 7th February. An identical event will be held the following evening, Wednesday 8th February, at Church Lawford Village Hall, Warwickshire. The NBA will welcome guest speaker, Steven Sandison, from Orkney, who will speak on the topic of ‘Are suckler herd targets accurate and achievable?’

What is a realistic number of calves to wean from 100 cows exposed to the bull over a nine week period? Farmers are commonly told they need to be achieving 92%, however with all the services and information on offer, only 82% of cows are actually weaning a calf.

Steven Sandison

A Nuffield Scholar and first-generation beef farmer, Steven manages a herd of 100 Simmental and Saler cross cattle which he has set up from scratch alongside his wife, Lorraine. Initially renting land, the pair bought their first unit in 2006 and extended this when they purchased another farm in 2009.

Steven classes benchmarking as a hobby and was driven to investigate the feasibility and achievability of suckler herd targets, and whether profit before subsidies was possible, following his selection as a focus farm when he was informed his figures could be improved.

Commenting on his work, Steven said: “What is a realistic number of calves to wean from 100 cows exposed to the bull over a nine week period? Farmers are commonly told they need to be achieving 92%, however with all the services and information on offer, only 82% of cows are actually weaning a calf.

“The question is; is 92% realistic and what do the best farmers have in common? These were the two main questions I set out to answer through my Nuffield Scholarship and I am looking forward to discussing these further with all those who attend the event.”

Encouraging members to get involved with these events, Rosie McGowan, NBA development manager, said: “This is a fascinating and relevant topic within the beef industry, especially with the uncertainty surrounding CAP payments post Brexit emphasising the need for profitability before subsidies.

“Steven is extremely passionate about suckler cattle and possesses a lifetime of practical, hands on knowledge and experience of the industry. He is keen to share his message with other beef producers in the UK.”

This is the first of many regional farmers’ meetings to be run by the NBA. Refreshments will be available at 6.30pm, with the talk beginning at 7.00pm. Those interested in this free event can sign up online at Eventbrite, alternatively, contact Rosie McGowan on 01434 601005 or email rosie@nationalbeefassociation.com.