BCBC Dairy Day

British Cattle Breeders’ Club Conference 2018 Dairy Day 24 January
The third day of the British Cattle Breeders Club’s annual British
Cattle Conference for 2018 saw a Scandinavian cattle breeding company
representative claim that maximum production could go hand-in-hand with
high health and welfare, while a Yorkshire-based dairy farmer described
how he achieved top profitability figures. The 22-24 January event at
Telford in Shropshire celebrated the BCBC’s 70th anniversary under the
theme of ‘Farming and Genetics – Let’s Inspire the Next Generation.’
Lars Nielsen, of Viking Genetics artificial insemination company, said a
joint breeding programme between Denmark, Sweden and Finland was focused
on the countries’ three main breeds: the Holstein, the VikingRed and the
Jersey. A recent report had placed the three Nordic countries as having
the lowest sales of antibiotics for dairy cows in Europe. This ranking, 
said Mr Nielsen, was largely due to a focus on clearly defined breeding
“Scandinavian farmers not only have the lowest use of antibiotics, they
also have the highest milk yield per cow over 305 days, in terms of
kilogrammes, for all recorded cows across all breeds.
“These results have been achieved through the use of the Nordic Total
Merit Index. It uses 60 sub-traits combined into 14 main traits, all of
which are economically important. The weightings are distributed with
50% for health and fertility traits, 30% for production and 20% for
Mr Nielsen also gave the audience some facts and figures about dairy
farmers in the Nordic countries. Some 90% of producers used recording
techniques, with information from 90% of cows used to compile a national
database on general animal health. Meanwhile, 85% of cows were
registered to provide fertility information and 40% of foot trimmers
supplied reports on hoof health to a central data capture system.
British Cattle Breeders Club chairman and AHDB Dairy technical manager, 
Andy Dodd, commented that the UK industry’s breeding indexes for *£PLI
and **£SCI were currently in a strong position to replicate the success
of the Nordic countries, with UK antibiotic usage not far behind the
figures recorded in Scandinavia.
Award-winning milk producer, Roger Hildreth, manages just over 100
Holstein Friesians at Curlew Fields, near York, with his son, Tom. A
visit to the USA just a few years ago inspired him to adopt a ‘can-do’ 
attitude, he said, starting with a thorough review of farm costings. He
has since won a Promar Milk Manager of the Year title and the title of
Asda/Arla dairy farmer.
Among the changes implemented by the Hildreth family was a switch from
bedded loose-housing to cubicles, as well as the introduction of a calf
feeding regime which ensures that calves are given a maximum of six
litres of colostrum over a 24-hour period, followed by 875 grammes/day
of a good quality milk powder.
“We set a target weight of 90kgs for calves at eight weeks, and the vast
majority of animals reach this goal,” he told delegates. “Calf coats are
used in poor weather and we like to maintain a low stocking rate in the
calf pens, with a maximum of six calves per pen.”
Mr Hildreth outlined his enthusiasm for benchmarking farm performance
against other, similar farm businesses. He pointed out that in 2015/16, 
Curlew Fields was making 33% more profit per cow place than the next
highest farm in the benchmarking group, with the figure rising to 50% 
for 2016/17.
The BCBC wishes to thank the following major sponsors for their support: 
The event’s main sponsors are: Afimilk, Waitrose, Mole Valley Farmers, 
MSD Animal Health and AHDB. Other sponsors: ABP UK; Alltech; Asda; Beef
Shorthorn Cattle Society; British Limousin Cattle Society; BVD Free; 
Caisley Eartag Ltd; DairyPro; Dovecote Park; Egenes; ForFarmers; 
Hereford Cattle Society; Neogen Europe; Shepherd Publishing; SRUC; 
VikingGenetics; Zoetis.
*£PLI Profitable Lifetime Index
**£SCI Spring Calving Index
Founded in 1946, the British Cattle Breeders Club (BCBC) was formed to
promote the exchange of ideas on beef and dairy cattle production. Its
annual British Cattle Conference has become an important event in the
farming calendar, providing an opportunity to connect with some of the
industry’s leading scientists, specialists, veterinarians and best
practice farmers.

The British Cattle Conference extends a warm welcome to non-members, 
although anyone with an interest in the UK cattle industry is encouraged
to join the BCBC; membership is £35 a year and includes a discount on
conference attendance fees. For all enquiries, please contact BCBC
secretary, Heidi Bradbury 07966 032079.
More detailed information about the BCBC and the British Cattle
Conference can be found on the website, www.cattlebreeders.org.uk