Mexico re-opens for GB sheep and goats

With just one or two formalities to complete and a couple of additions to the Embryo EHC (Export Health Certificate), the UK can return to Mexico with its ovine and caprine germplasm for which there is sure to be a keen demand. Further good news for prospective exporters is that UKTAG have been tasked by DIT to administer TAP (Trade Access Programme) grants for two events in Mexico in autumn this year - a Pig Congress and Expo Agroalimente in Irapuato. ExpoInter in Brazil (where the semen EHC has also recently been agreed - see separate news item) in August is also an approved event for TAP.

For further information, please contact Henry Lewis, Director, Export Certification Ltd (ECL), UK Export Certification Partnership (Defra/ECL) 07990506003

Brazil Market Access - Stop Press

UKECP (UK Export Certification Partnership) reports that the revised EHC (Export Health Certificate) for sheep semen to go to Brazil has been approved by their authorities - MAPA - and should be in place once a few formalities have been effected. Our Post there, the DIT representative, Fernanda Silva, has been most helpful in achieving this and it is hoped that the UK sheep sector will be able to take advantage of this development. 


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,

BCBC Beef Day Report

British Cattle Breeders’ Club Conference 2018 Beef Day 23 January

BCBC Chairman Andy Dodd

BCBC Chairman Andy Dodd

The second day of the British Cattle Breeders Club’s annual British
Cattle Conference for 2018 saw Dr Matthew Cleveland fly in from the USA, 
to give a presentation on maximising profits through improved beef
genetics, while grower, Andrew Ward, urged farmers to get involved in
public relations. The Conference also saw the launch of new indexes for
dairy cattle, with the 22-24 January event at Telford in Shropshire
marking the BCBC’s 70th anniversary and carrying the theme of ‘Farming
and Genetics – Let’s Inspire the Next Generation.’
Among the many options for differentiating beef in the marketplace, the
most important were those which were measurable and demonstrated a real
difference in value, said Dr Cleveland, who is the director of global
beef product development for Genus.
“As breeders change their cattle genetics, they need to see an
improvement and have a firm objective for the outcome which is linked to
the supply chain,” said Dr Cleveland. “There are barriers to this type
of improvement within the beef industry, because the benefits of taking
action can be unclear.
“All of the parties along the supply chain need to perceive an advantage
in any progress that is being made. Once stakeholders see its value, 
they will begin to demand greater genetic differentiation.”
The first steps were to understand the real value within the marketplace
and define economically relevant traits, as well as deciding how
performance data would be collected, he explained. The breeder should
then create differentiation through a set of selection objectives, 
finally putting into place a targeted programme of improvements. Dr
Cleveland argued the case for splitting objectives into terminal and
maternal traits and basing matings on the information generated by this
data. He added that the final stage for a tailored system of genetic
improvement should include the aim of increasing profitability through
each generation.
Lincolnshire farmer and founder of the Forage Aid charity, Andrew Ward
described how the industry came together on several occasions where
extreme weather caused problems for farmers. This included the forage
shortage which occurred in 2013. Mr Ward also gave his views on the
future, commenting on the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. However he
also saw the move as an opportunity, stressing that producers had many
more mouths to feed, compared with any other time in history.
“Big changes are definitely ahead, and we are already seeing some
exciting developments, such as the robotic picking of fruit and
vegetables in glasshouses and driverless tractors. But we are also
facing threats from activists on subjects like chemical crop spraying, 
the bovine TB issue and the effect on human health from eating livestock
“More than ever before, we must tell our story and make sure the public
receive accurate information about the way we farm. You would go to a
doctor to learn about medicine and to a mechanic for problems with your
car, so we must be proactive and encourage the public to come to us for
advice on farming and not seek information from the vegan lobbyists, for
example. Some anti-farming groups are highly active, especially on
social media, and it is up to individual farmers to try and redress the
balance,” said Mr Ward.
The group of more than 200 delegates also heard how four new dairy
indexes for calf survival, carcase quality, lameness and feed efficiency
will be added to the existing Predicted Transmitting Abilities published
by AHDB Dairy. Announcing the launch, the organisation’s Marco Winters
said that a range of data had been accessed, in order to produce the new
information, which will start to be released from April.
“These four new traits for 2018 build on our progress and address some
of the pressing issues the industry faces today,” said Mr Winters, who
is head of animal genetics. “Farmers want to know which dairy calves
have good survival, which daughters are less prone to lameness and which
will convert their feed into milk more efficiently. Producers will also
value the addition of carcase traits, particularly if they are rearing
pure or cross-bred dairy beef.”
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.
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,



UK pig stud secures biggest ever export order to China

The UK has received its largest ever export order from China for frozen boar semen, in a deal which also involves training Chinese staff in artificial insemination (AI) and semen handling. Deerpark Pedigree Pigs in Northern Ireland has secured the order which will ship in January 2018 and be followed by further consignments over the months and years ahead.

Nigel Overend pictured with the Gloucester Old Spot Champion when judging at Bath & West Show 2017

Nigel Overend pictured with the Gloucester Old Spot Champion when judging at Bath & West Show 2017

The order has come off the back of extensive work on the part of brothers, Nigel and Robert Overend, who own the Deerpark Stud, with support from the Department for International Trade (DIT) and UK Tag, the export arm of the British Pig Association (BPA).

Over the years, the Overend family has perfected the process of freezing pig semen, a product with which their top-performing customers are now achieving conception rates as high as 100 per cent.

Freezing boar semen to reach this level of performance has eluded the pig industry for many years, but the Overend family was early to adopt the process and has spent decades fine-tuning best-practice techniques for freezing, thawing and inseminating the semen.

Nigel Overend prepares part of the export order going to China

Nigel Overend prepares part of the export order going to China

Although their freezing process remains a closely-guarded secret within their Londonderry-based company, the brothers are now in keen demand around the world to provide tuition in handling and insemination.

The most recent Chinese order for 2,000 straws will follow smaller shipments, in a sequence of events which is typical for the company when new customers come on board.

“This customer started with a small order of 100 straws in order to test the water,” says Nigel Overend. “When they were confident they would achieve high conception rates, they moved on to much larger orders.”

Semen from these shipments will be largely destined for Chinese multiplication units which produce high genetic merit breeding stock for commercial herds.

“In many cases, the technicians trained by Deerpark are achieving conception rates far beyond anything they have had from any other country before,” adds Robert Overend.

The most recent order to China is the third the brothers will have shipped to the same company and one of many orders which have recently been destined for the Far East. Others include a significant order which left the UK for Thailand last month.

Further interest in Deerpark comes from the rare and minority breeds which are banked at the stud alongside the commercially important Large White and British Landrace.

This stems from the fact that the British Pig Association and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) have designated the Deerpark Stud as the centre for their breed conservation programmes. This means orders can also be fulfilled for breeds such as the Large Black, Berkshire, Gloucestershire Old Spots, British Lop, Middle White and Oxford Sandy & Black.

In total, the company has seen a 300 per cent increase in its frozen semen sales over the past two years. A large proportion of this growth is attributed to export orders, a demand which has developed following the company’s ongoing presence at international trade events.

Events the brothers have attended include Viv Asia in Thailand, World Pork Expo in the USA and Agrilink in the Philippines. Their presence at these and other exhibitions has been supported by the BPA, the UK government’s DIT as well as embassies around the world.

“The DIT and the BPA have been hugely important in supporting the UK presence at these events,” says Mr Overend. “They set up the stands and provide interpreters, and we just turn up with the information about our product.

“It’s proven to be very successful for us and with the uncertainty over Brexit, it will be more important in the future to be seen on the international stage,” he says.

As a result of the significant increase in demand, Deerpark Pedigree Pigs is now undergoing expansion of its current stud and existing pig units.



     ·      Official British Limousin Sales gross £6,311,650

·      100,000gns Ampertaine Mozart tops bull trade

·      Foxhillfarm Mammamia is the top priced female at 42,000gns

Gross sales of pedigree Limousin cattle, sold at official British Limousin Cattle Society (BLCS) auction sales in 2017, increased in the year by over £665,491 to a figure of £6,311,650. The closing fixture of the year, the Red Ladies & Weaned Calf Sale held at Carlisle, saw a gross of £420,000 to push official Limousin sales in the year through the £6 Million mark. 

British Limousin 2017 Sale Topper Ampertaine Mozart £105,000

British Limousin 2017 Sale Topper Ampertaine Mozart £105,000

In the course of the 2017, eighteen collective sales held at Carlisle, Stirling, Brecon, Newark, Dungannon, Ballymena and Aberdeen respectively, in addition to Official BLCS Breeders’ Sales, comprising of Production, Reduction & Dispersal Sales, saw 1,523 animals sold in all. This represented an increase of 78 year on year.   Through the year 756 bulls sold to average £5470.30 whilst the ongoing demand for Limousin females saw 767 sell, predominantly heifers, to average £2837.14

Leading the pedigree Limousin prices in the year was the 100,000gns paid for the January 2016 born bull Ampertaine Mozart from James McKay, Maghera, Co Derry.  The highest priced female came in the form of the 42,000gns Foxhillfarm Mammamia from Mike and Melanie Alford, Devon. 

Scawfell Genetics Expansion

Scawfell Genetics Ltd is Expanding

Scawfell Genetics Ltd is an expanding business privately owned by farmers, aiding and promoting the UK genetics industry. Based in Cumbria, the privately owned bull stud has storage and distribution facilities for the U.K. and export semen.

A recent change has seen Scawfell Genetics deciding to stand alone after gaining a number of years experience in both the dairy and beef worlds working alongside other companies.

Already supplying an on farm semen collection service as well as on stud service in Cumbria for domestic and export, the business will now be expanding, sourcing bulls and semen required by dairy and beef farmers to suit all farm systems. We are also offering storage and distribution of both domestic and export qualified cattle semen.

Produced from either our own expanding range of dairy and beef sires or our customers who are looking to market semen from their own bulls. Our aim is simple, to provide the best friendly advice, service and facilities to the industry and having the contacts to be able to source the genetics you require. We have invested in state of the art automated equipment across the genetics business to allow us to keep our prices low whilst providing complete real time visibility to our customers every step of the way, allowing you to view live semen stock totals, sales, invoices etc.

The Scawfell Genetics Ltd directors consist of Pete Sherwen, John Black, Duncan Hazard and James Hazard.

Orders can also be placed through Scawfell Genetics website using credit card payment at

Scawfell Genetics can also be followed on Facebook and Instagram. Or feel free to contact us with your questions or requirements on 01946 725000.


British Livestock represented at Indagra, Romania

British-bred sheep were the star attraction at Indagra, Romanian's largest agriculture show attended by 60,000 visitors in Bucharest 25-29 October 2017.

British Livestock Pavilion

British Livestock Pavilion

Supported by AHDB & the British Livestock Genetics Consortium (BLG), the British Livestock marquee exhibited two British Charollais (2 ram lambs) and six Suffolks (1 shearling ram and 5 ewe lambs) from Robert Gregory's Edstaston flock, Shrewsbury and Jim & Irene Fowlie's Essie flock, Aberdeen respectively.

Carroll Barber, Richard Saunders, Jonathan Barber & Robert Gregory

Carroll Barber, Richard Saunders, Jonathan Barber & Robert Gregory

Richard Saunders & Irene Fowlie (centre) pictured with the Essie Suffolk sheep buyers

Richard Saunders & Irene Fowlie (centre) pictured with the Essie Suffolk sheep buyers

This strong British presence included Carroll & Jonathan Barber (CST performance Ram Marketing), Jean-Pierre Garnier, Export Manager AHDB together with Richard Saunders & Henry Lewis representing BLG.

British Suffolk & British Charollais sheep on display

British Suffolk & British Charollais sheep on display

With an important sheep sector (10 million ewes), Romanian sheep farmers are looking for breeds which produce quick-growing, fast-finishing lambs with the ability to add muscle and increase lambing percentage when crossed onto local sheep like the indigenous Turcana.

J-P Garnier & Richard Saunders

J-P Garnier & Richard Saunders

Holstein UK Members visit World Dairy Expo, Madison

World Dairy Expo.png

This year’s World Dairy Expo did not disappoint those members of Holstein UK who made the journey across to Madison, USA. The cattle on show did justice to the breed and to those responsible for their day-to-day management, along with the team who presented them so well in the various classes.

The British presence was aided this year via a UK Trade and Industry (UKTI) grant scheme which allowed a small group of members to attend to promote the genetics of the breed and their own herds. Under the banner of British Livestock Genetics, a number of prefixes stood alongside industry organisationsto allow focused discussions around how and why British genetics can compete on the world stage. All attendees under the grant scheme came away with leads into differing marketplaces to allow further discussions once back on home soil.

Taking a stand space leading into the International Lounge allowed interactions with both North American attendees and those who had travelled a little further to the event. The event's 'daily paper' quoted upwards of 70 countries being in attendance across the 5 days of the show, making this an ideal shop window for Holstein UK, its activity, the breed and members.

S.T Genetics Becomes Majority Shareholder in Cogent



Worldwide livestock reproduction and bovine technology business S.T. Genetics of Texas, U.S.A has become the majority shareholder in the UK's largest bull stud, Cogent Breeding Ltd. 

Cogent will provide S.T. with a strong platform in the UK and Europe providing new routes to market and a creating a powerhouse of industry knowledge, technology and resources.

In turn, S.T Genetics will provide significant benefits to Cogent, in particular: world-class bull power including the number one PLI bull in the UK; new-generation sexed semen machines and processes;  genomic testing and mating programmes and access to new and innovative bovine reproduction technology. 

Juan Moreno, CEO of S.T. genetics, said: "We are delighted to announce that S.T. Genetics has become the majority owner of Cogent. S.T. will now have access to new routes to market in the UK and Europe and greater understanding of them. For Cogent, S.T's resources mean it will become a global leader in the industry and deliver a truly enhanced offering to clients."

S.T. is no stranger to Cogent; it has a longstanding relationship as Cogent pioneered the commercialisation of sexed semen and was the first licensee of S.T's sexing technology.

Whilst there is a change in ownership, Cogent will continue to operate as a separate business maintaining its own proud identity, brand and culture. 

Mark Roach, Managing Director of Cogent, who will continue in the role, said: "This exciting development with S.T. Genetics, one of the market's leading players, will enhance Cogent's customer offering; founded on its strong brand, expertise and customer service with the integration of top quality genetics, technology and global reach. 

"This is a very exciting and significant development in the future of the business which will help us fulfil our vision 'to be a world leader in the improvement of dairy and beef genetics'."

Cogent UK :: News :: US based ST genetics has become the majority shareholder in the UK's largest bull stud Cogent Breeding Limited

Cogent Breeding is the UK's largest bull stud. Based on the commercial requirements of today's dairy farmer, Cogent has successfully developed a breeding programme founded on production, type, reliability and new technologies such as sexed semen.

British Livestock stand at Irish Ploughing Match

‘British Livestock’ Stand At Irish Ploughing Championship 19-21 September 2017 Roars Into Life at 8am on First Day!!


John Fleming & Gill Evans representing British Livestock at the Irish Ploughing Match

John Fleming & Gill Evans representing British Livestock at the Irish Ploughing Match

The ‘British Livestock Genetics’ stand, was packed with interest, from 8 am on the first day of this, the largest outdoor exhibitor and agricultural trade show in Europe, with approaching 80% of all literature being snapped up by the end of the second day.  


The attendance, over the three day event, was a record breaking 291,500, with visitors being drawn from every corner of the island of Ireland, in addition to strong international visitor support; the event attracting over 1700 trade exhibitors, covering all aspect of rural life. This was in addition to over 250 acres of competition ploughing, involving the most modern and biggest reversible’s to horses and vintage classes, with 300 competitors taking part.

The ‘British Livestock Genetics’ stand, located in the middle of the livestock area, was supported with breed information from 20 beef and 9 British sheep Societies and breeders.


The very wide range of genetic information available proved of great interest to visitors; needless to say the subject of ‘Brexit’ was as never far from people’s minds and its implication for beef and sheep trade between the UK and Ireland.

This, the 86th Irish National Ploughing Championships, was held near Tullamore, about 60 miles due west of Dublin, in the heart of the Irish Midlands. The stand was organised in conjunction with the British Livestock Genetics Consortium (BLG) and the export department of AHDB – Beef and Lamb; the objective of this, British presence, at Ireland’s premier agricultural event, being to raise the profile of quality British livestock genetics and to generate trade.

The stand was organised, on behalf of the British Livestock Genetics Consortium (BLG), by John Fleming of ‘JF Professional Genetic Services’, ably supported by Gill Evans, an experienced pedigree breeder of many years standing.





Galloways head to Spain

A TOTAL of 87 Galloways and Belted Galloways have been exportedin one of the biggest ever deals to Spain, writes Bobby Geddus.

Galloways arriving in Spain

Galloways arriving in Spain

It follows a visit to Scotland and the North of England by Mike Harding and his Spanish wife who are setting up a herd of Galloways. Thirty six of the Galloway heifers were shipped out last week from the famous Klondyke Herd atShancastle Farm at Moniaive. The couple have purchased in total 12 Belted Galloways and a bull as well as 73 black Galloways and a bull.

Klondyke's Farm Manager Scott McKinnon ready to load Galloways for their journey to Spain

Klondyke's Farm Manager Scott McKinnon ready to load Galloways for their journey to Spain

One of the two Galloway bulls comes from John and Ann Finlay at Blackcraig, Corsock.

Scott McKinnon, farm manager at Shancastle who runs one of the biggest Galloway herds in the country, said the heifers were aged between 17and 23 months.

“It’s great for the GallowayBreed and for us. We’re delighted to be involved in this export deal. The couple were over here and visited various herds before making their purchases.

“Half of them were sent by float from here and the other part of the consignment was from herds on the eastern side of the country.”

The couple have two farms, or Dehesas as they are called in Spain, which use the old ecosystem farming method traditionally employed in two regions of Spain, Extremadura and Salamanca.

Mike said: “We are in Salamaca not far from the Portuguese border, where there are hot summers and cold (-8C) winters.

“We have one farm of around 280 hectares with 200+ head of breeding females of Spanish Avileñas, a traditional Spanish pedigree breed, half of which we are crossing with Japanese Wagyu.

“Our plan is to phase out of Avileña in the coming years and hopefully switch to Galloway completely. The Avileña produces good beef but it’s a more difficult animal to manage and handle.”

He added: “"Dehesa de Olmillos" is the Main farm where the Galloways are going to live. Here we have 275 hectares with 3km of river frontage, and where we are putting into place rotational pastures to complement the traditional Dehesa system.

“We have brought in a total of 87 animals this first trip, 43 are already at the farm settling down, (six of these are Belties). We have put these in a pasture next to 30 Angus females so they don’t feel too far away from home!”

The couple have purchased in total 12 belted Galloways and a bull as well as 73 black Galloways and a bull.

From this first batch, they will be keeping about 25 black Galloway as pure and intend to build up the herd by breeding/buying in more Galloways over the course of the next few years.

“Our intention is to establish the Galloway breed here at both our farms, both Black and Belted and to establish a market for the beef.

“In addition we want to integrate other local farms into the programme, sell them females and get them breeding and selling into the market we create.

“It’s a long term plan but we are committed to the breed and its characteristics. We think it will adapt well to the conditions here and we are confident the meat quality will set it apart in this market.”

Mike went on: “The rest of the Galloways will be crossed with Wagyu.

We chose the Galloway heifers as the base female for their obvious great characteristics which we believe will make a better cross than the typical Angus or Holstein that other breeders are using for Wagyu F1 production.”

First Hampshire Down Consignment to Spain

The first ever consignment of Hampshire Down sheep from the UK to set foot on Spanish soil has arrived in Valencia, reports the Farmers Guardian on 15.09.2017. The sheep were part of a larger shipment of 17 Hampshire Downs, most of which were exported to France, from the Pembrokeshire-based Maes-Glas flock. Established by Eirlys & Barry Jones and their son, Stuart, in 1995, purchaser was Pablo Torres Domingo.

7112.Hampshire Down generic.jpg

Generic Hampshire Down photo courtesy of the Hampshire Down Sheep Breeders Association


UK Meat Exports Surpass £500 Million

Exports of beef, lamb and pork from the UK have surpassed the £500 million mark for the first six months of 2017 – up 18 per cent year-on-year.

There has also been a 21 per cent increase in offal exports, taking the total value of shipments from the three sectors to £582m.

Statistics from HMRC showed exports to non-EU countries have also risen, with the Asian markets continuing to offer opportunities for beef, lamb and pork.

In other news, tributes have been paid to a 'wonderful' man who was killed by a bull at Gisburn auction mart and three men have been charged with conspiracy to handle stolen goods after farm equipment worth more than £20,000 was recovered at an auction.

Limousin Feed Efficiency Project Progressing Well

Feed Efficiency Programme progressing well

The recent open day at one of the commercial farms chosen to host a data recording unit for the Defra/AHDB funded Beef Feed Efficiency Programme presented a great opportunity to see how Limousin cattle are being used in the important industry research.    

This major industry project, which is progressing well, aims to demonstrate how feed efficiency traits can be measured and selected for in beef cattle. It will illustrate how the most efficient cattle will eat less than others but grow at the same rate. Attendees got to see the cattle in the unit up close and were shown some interim results, which already indicate a notable range of feed efficiency between different sire groups.   To date, actual feed intake of the more feed efficient cattle has tended to be around 12% lower than that for the less efficient cattle, yet growth rates are similar. Across 100 growing cattle gaining 200kg of liveweight, the resultant feed cost savings would amount to over £2,200.

While the initial focus is on recording Limousin-sired cattle, the aim is to develop a system for recording feed efficiency that can be extended to other beef breeds in the future. This will undoubtedly provide significant opportunities for all beef producers to cut the cost of production.

Limousin sired calves are still required for the programme and can be purchased, or loaned via a retained ownership arrangement, from dairy or beef herds. Please contact Natalie Cormack on 07866 934563 / 01890 781006 or email if you have suitable cattle up to 8 months of age.

British Charolais Continues to Improve Calving Ease

Breeders responding to commercial demand

Charolais breeders are continuing to make strides forward in delivering bulls leaving progeny that are easier to calve, as well as increasingly efficient and high performing, according to the society herdbook’s latest Breedplan report for 2016.

Modern Charolais’ calving ease direct EBV has increased by 0.8% since 2007 when the breed society introduced the Breedplan genetic evaluation system, whilst the closely correlated gestation length EBV has reduced over the same period by 0.2 days. Furthermore, there has been a continued improvement for each performance trait. For example, 200 day and 400 day growth rates have increased by +4.0kg and +8.0kg respectively.


“Our breeders are using the Breedplan system to carefully select animals that will not only continue to improve growth rate and carcase characteristics, but also to tackle head on improving calving ease,” says British Charolais Cattle Society chief executive, Peter Phythian.

“Genetic progress is both permanent and cumulative, and these latest genetic trends are clearly gaining momentum as more and more progeny come in to the system. They represent a meaningful step forward towards fulfilling one of the society’s key objectives.

“Charolais breeders are focused on supplying the market with genetics that strike a balance between those key traits which are destined to make a significant contribution towards efficient profitable beef enterprises. And their selection processes will continue to meet future demand. Breeders are aware that commercial livestock farmers are starting to gear up their enterprises for changes to the current payment system as CAP support comes to an end, Brexit begins and future profit comes under the microscope.

“All commercial producers can attempt to reduce costs and improve output efficiency, whilst influencing the marketplace is usually out of their control. However, investing in a modern Charolais terminal sire with high EBVs for calving ease combined with performance traits will help to minimise labour requirements and accompanying costs, and leave calves that consistently achieve premiums in the marketplace. Those premiums are likely to persist as Charolais cross cattle continue to reach target finishing weight faster and more efficiently than all other crosses.”

Texel Leads on Performance Recording

The Texel Sheep Society and AHDB Signet Breeding Services have struck a new agreement with regards the provision of performance recording to Texel Society members.

While, initially, this will mean little change to performance recording flocks, over the next 8-12 months it will allow the Society to deliver a more streamlined, improved service to members and all those with an interest in performance recording for the longer term.

Explaining the changes breed development chairman Peter Mitchell said that this change in service delivery follows a review of breed development activity by the Society, which included a consultancy project with NZ based Abacus Bio.

For 2017 the only noticeable change for members would be a Society support payment to fully recording members of £25 +VAT on top of reductions already made by Signet.

“Current recording services for 2017 will remain unaffected, with the aim to roll out improved online data capture and wider promotional services by 2018. This will add to the research and development activity which supports the Society’s genomic technology programme which is expected to deliver new breeding values for hard to measure traits, such as disease resilience and carcass and meat quality to the membership during 2019/20.

Society chief executive John Yates added; “Breed development requires a long term commitment. This change in service delivery for recording services fits perfectly with the breed Society and our objects and aligns trait measurement and development perfectly with our large scale research and development projects.

“Over the next three years, Society-led projects will deliver £3M of investment in Industry sheep research. These projects will focus on recording hard-to-measure disease traits and validating new technology in collaboration with SRUC and ABP food group, a leading meat processor.

“Texel breeders will be the first to access new carcass grading measurement technology – Video Image Analysis (VIA) and adopt novel scoring systems for improving carcass production and managing disease traits. The aim of these projects is to create new systems and deliver the very latest in genomic estimated breeding values (gEBV’s) for these traits.

“It is expected that further work by AHDB at an Industry level, such as creating new CT-derived EBVs and access to RamCompare will further complement to the Society’s investment and breed development initiative.”

For 2017 AHDB-Signet remains the first point of technical support, with the provision and charging arrangements for ultrasound scanning remaining unchanged, said Mr Yates. “Going forward members should continue to submit recording data by their usual method and the Society encourages members to submit it online via the Society database, Basco.”

The Society will update members in due course on how to submit flock data in 2018, but from April 2018 all flock reports will be provided directly by the Society, with a dedicated individual supporting performance recording and research and development activity as part of the Society breed development strategy.

New Chief Executive for Hereford Cattle Society

James Sage, Hereford Cattle Society Chief Executive

James Sage, Hereford Cattle Society Chief Executive

James Sage has been appointed as the Hereford Cattle Society's first Chief Executive. James, who joins from organic certifiers, The Soil Association, said “I’m very much looking forward to joining the Society and working with the team at Hereford House, the Council and the breeders who are the heart of the breed. This is an exciting era within UK and global agriculture and I believe there will be a prominent role for the Hereford to play in post-Brexit UK agriculture. Capitalising on the breed’s many wonderful attributes to further develop sustainable profitable systems for farmers.” 

James has worked within the agricultural and horticultural industries for nearly 20 years and will move from the Soil Association, where he was a Senior Inspector Manager. In this role James was responsible for a team of UK based office staff and remote workers, as well as contractors overseas and has seen him establish new partnerships with other Agri-food businesses. He also successfully identified new areas of business and marketed them to customers. Previously James worked for Defra where he was part of the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate.

Hereford Society Chairman, Richard Mann, said “We are delighted to welcome James to the Society and his excellent background, coupled with his energy to work with the Council and breeders, will take the breed forward in the new and exciting times that are ahead of us.”

James was brought up on a mixed beef and sheep farm on the Mendip Hills. He also runs a small herd of pedigree pigs with which he has won a number of inter-breed titles and the “Pig of the Year” title in 2016. He now lives in Gloucestershire with his wife and family.


Limousin Research Creating New Opportunity in Suckler Herds

Suckler Herd with Limousin-sired calves

Suckler Herd with Limousin-sired calves

BLCS announces delivery of four new Maternal Genomic Breeding Values for the Commercial Sector

In a first for the UK beef industry, Genomic Breeding Values (GEBVs) for three new Female Fertility traits and a new Calf Survival trait are being launched by the British Cattle Limousin Society (BLCS) and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in July.  

Following closely behind the breed’s introduction of Carcase Trait GEBVs last year, this development represents another important milestone for commercial and pedigree users of Limousin genetics.   

Because of the Limousin breed’s dominance in the suckler herd, it is anticipated it will have sector-wide impact.  In combination with the already established Carcase Traits GEBVs, these new Female Fertility and Survival GEBVs offer good opportunity for significant financial gain; the use of identified high performance genetics to drive maternal performance will yield direct returns in suckler herds and will create increasing and new trading opportunities for all Limousin stock.  The traits focus on key economic drivers; Age to First Calving, Calving Interval, Cow Longevity and Calf Survival.  All are critically important as the industry continues to move to one being driven even more by efficiency and profitability.

Says John Phillips, a Limousin producer and Chairman of the BLCS “Recent market changes are seeing increasing demand for medium-sized, high performing dams.  Limousin can deliver these and the new GEBVs present quantifiable financial opportunity for all commercial producers to target the key performance drivers in their herds.

“Such opportunity will come not only in the form of reduced costs of production through increased calf returns and lower replacement costs for breeding heifers.   Openings to generate new income streams are now there for the taking, as well as opportunity to increase the rate of genetic improvement in producers’ own herds” continues Mr Phillips.

The delivery of these GEBV’s represents achievement of another major goal of the BLCS’ Breeding Improvement Plan, the objective of which is to invest in targeted areas of the breed’s performance to ensure it delivers market-focussed genetics.   The pathway these new GEBV’s offer delivers a valuable opportunity to investigate and find breeding solutions for traits that have not been possible until now.  Further development for the breed in to areas such as feed efficiency, meat quality and animal health are now possible & ongoing.     

Mr Phillips continued “Producer investment in the breed must yield a return and, through the ongoing roll-out of this Improvement Plan, the Society’s objectives are firmly anchored around this principal”.

The first Maternal GEBVs are scheduled for release on 13th July.    The research was completed by in partnership with SRUC and funded by InnovateUK and BBSRC.

Sheep Discovery for Chinese Delegation

Chinese Delegation pictured outside AHDB HQ, Stoneleigh Park, Warks

Chinese Delegation pictured outside AHDB HQ, Stoneleigh Park, Warks

Sheep and goat experts from China were given an insight into lamb production in Britain when they met the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

The Chinese Animal Agriculture Association (CAAA) made a special visit to AHDB’s headquarters in Stoneleigh to learn about the country’s trends and advancements in science and genetics for the sheep sector.

It was part of a top level 12-day China Inward Mission which saw them visit farms, an auction market and the National Sheep Association’s Sheep South West event near Tiverton.

The 23 delegates were welcomed to Stoneleigh by AHDB’s Head of Exports Peter Hardwick who provided an overview of the organisation and the industry.

The group was told there are around 33 million sheep in the UK from more than 100 breeds in a great variety of environments on 70,000 farms. AHDB’s Head of Livestock Export Trade Development Jean-Pierre Garnier said the UK produces in the region of 300,000 tonnes of sheep meat – with around 110,000 tonnes exported every year. He also highlighted that 40% of sheep meat consumed in Europe comes from the UK.

Jean-Pierre Garnier, AHDB

Jean-Pierre Garnier, AHDB

The delegation was also told about the importance of innovation such as the ongoing research into grass genetics and grazing systems, ovine genetics, nutrition and the importance of sustainability.

Emma Steele, Signet

Emma Steele, Signet

A presentation by Emma Steele, a senior breeding advisor to Signet, told about helping identify animals with superior breeding potential and helping the industry to capitalise on genetic improvement.

Jean-Pierre said: “We are extremely flattered that the CAAA has chosen the UK to view current trends of lamb production. We certainly are at the cutting edge of scientific and technical developments for this vital British agricultural sector and had a lot to present.

“We are also pleased with the caliber of the participants and large size of the group which amounted to 23 people – among them some of the most influential in the Chinese sheep sector. They have visited some of the leading breeding farms in the UK and have seen some of the best sheep genetics in the world today.

“Importantly, although we already have strong relations with the CAAA particularly in the pig breeding sector, this visit will allow us to build further bridges with our Chinese counterparts on the sheep side. It will also help to showcase our industry at a crucial time when we aim to get market access for sheep meet products to China.”