National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

Calf Fair and Beef Expo NI to be repeated in 2016

16th November 2015

Region: Northern Ireland

The inaugural Pedigree Calf Fair @ Beef NI Expo was an unqualified success, according to event organiser and Chairman David Connolly.

“We had a tremendous turnout of stock and visitors on the day,” he said.

“I had predicted beforehand that the event would represent a showcase for the pedigree beef champions of tomorrow, and given the views expressed by the judges, who were busy from 10.00am until 5.30pm on the day in question, this was undoubtedly the case.”

Confirming that the event will be repeated in 2016, David Connolly went on to say: “The initial feedback from exhibitors, sponsors, commercial trade and the paying public has been very positive, and on that basis we most certainly will look at hosting a similar event next year.

“What we have confirmed is that a gap in the market exists for a multi breed pedigree beef calf show at this time of the year.”

While the clear focus in the show ring was on the pedigree stock competing in the myriad show classes, the overarching theme for the event was the profiling of the future development strategies required by the beef industry as a whole.

Agri Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) scientist Dr Francis Lively said: “The beef industry must follow the example shown by the pig and poultry sectors in terms of becoming more efficient.

“This strategy must encompass the breeding, nutrition and health needs of the industry as a whole.

“Pedigree breeders in Northern Ireland are amongst the best in the world at the present time, but we must ensure that all of this tremendous breeding and management expertise is effectively communicated back down the line to commercial producers.”

Oisin Murnion, the National Beef Association’s Chairman in Northern Ireland said that genomics will play a key role in identifying the most suitable beef bloodlines, capable of delivering sustainability at farm level.

“Farmers must produce what the market wants, and increasingly, processors must clarify what their commercial requirements are moving forward” he said.

“I do not like the term contracts, in this context; rather I think that producers, the factories and retailers must commit to developing lines of communication that are much more effective and transparent.”

Paul Elwood, from event sponsor HVS Animal Health said: “The suckler cow produces one calf per year, so it is important that her calving interval is as close to 365 days as possible. It is also critical, from a performance point of view, that her calf gets the best possible start. Making sure that animals receive the correct balance of minerals and trace elements at those important times of the year is vital.

“In the case of the cow these are during the dry period and the run up to the breeding season.  Calves will also need an effective mineral boost pre weaning and pre housing.

“I have been using the seminars to explain how our Liquid Gold chelated mineral range is playing a key role in making these targets achievable on an increasing number of local beef farms.”

Unlocking the real potential of forage is the key challenge facing the beef industry in Northern Ireland, according to Crystalyx sales manager David Morgan.

“When grass and silage are plentiful, the feeding of extra energy as concentrates to growing cattle and sheep may be uneconomic,” he explained.

“Forage dry matter intakes can be depressed and replaced with the concentrates such that any increase in total energy intake will be relatively small. What is needed is a supplementary feed which complements and balances the grass, rather than replacing it.”

Mr Morgan went on to say: “Supplementing grazed grass and silage with Crystalyx can significantly and economically improve animal performance, where beef cattle are concerned.

“Independent trial work carried out at Newcastle University has shown that Crystalyx increases the rate of forage digestion by rumen bacteria. This stimulates grass intakes due to a reduced gut fill effect, increasing grass intake rather than replacing it.

“The reality is that Crystalyx products have improved the performance of grazing animals and the profitability of livestock farmers on four continents.”

The Pedigree Beef Calf Fair @ Beef NI Expo held at Balmoral in Belfast was organised in conjunction with the National Beef Association and the Livestock and Meat Commission. Organisers are indebted to their sponsors for their generous financial contribution. They include: Tesco, HVS Animal Health, Gormley Motors Isuzu; Crystalyx, Bovipast RSP and Farm Wardrobe.

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National Beef Association, Mart Centre, Tyne Green, Hexham – 01434601005, [email protected]