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

Model finishing unit host farm tour at NBA Beef Expo

30th March 2017

Region: National

Mike Wills, Chris Mallon and Charlie Wills
Mike Wills, Chris Mallon and Charlie Wills

Mike, Jane and Charlie Wills are the second of three farms lined up to host the National Beef Association’s Beef Expo farm tours on the 17th May. Upper Coton, their model farm in Guilsborough at the heart of the Midlands spans over 700 acres of arable land and is home to their impressive Approved Finishing Unit which finishes 1,300 cattle per year. Farm tour visitors are invited to look round their unit which holds approximately 620-800 Limousin type cattle at any one time, and learn the secrets to this successful family run business.

The unit is based around the livestock market system. Mike buys stores from markets across Wales, Cumbria and Shropshire at 8-12 months of age, selecting on conformation (U-/U+), growth, and farm history. He then sells all his stock through Selby auction mart, approximately 25 animals per week. The family’s attention to detail is second to none, in advance of purchasing animals they calculate the price that they are willing to pay considering current feed costs, beef price, calf weight, age and conformation.

Speaking on his selection process, Mike stated “Conformation in young cattle is key. If a calf that is less than 12 months old has achieved a weight of 400kg this indicates has it has a good Food Conversion Ratio (FCR) and is likely to do well on the unit. We favour live markets as it allows for the selection of individual exceptional animals, instead of batches of cattle that can vary in quality. We calculate the efficiency and profit for each individual animal and repeatedly buy from farms whose stock perform well.”

Cattle are fed twice a day to appetite. Feed is mixed with a Keenan mixer on site and consists of home grown maize, barley and wheat mixed with several byproducts and minerals. The combination of precise cattle selection and quality home grown feed results in fantastic technical performance. In the last 7 months’ bulls, steers and heifers have averaged growth rates of 1.6kg, 1.3kg and 1.15kg DLWG respectively, finishing at ages of 15, 17 and 16 months. The Wills aim to sell heifers between 520-580kg, steers at 620-680kg and bulls at 650-700kg grading at 3/4L.

Commenting on their system, Charlie said “We are constantly tweaking the system to minimise the cost per kilo live weight gain and spread risk. We feel we can achieve this by feeding a consistent, well balanced and well-structured ration which utilises the crops we grow on farm. We have recently altered the rations to incorporate some alternative by-products and are pleased with the results.”

Speaking in advance about the farm tour, Chris Mallon, Chief Executive of the NBA, said “We are delighted to have such a tremendous finisher and supporter of the livestock auction mart system on board this years Beef Expo farm tours. Visitors can expect to see sheds of high conformation, quality cattle kept to the highest of standards on this family run unit.”

“Upper Coton is a fantastic example of a profitable and sustainable finishing unit which we hope visitors will be able to take home new ideas to apply to their own businesses. I would like to thank the Wills family in advance for their kind hospitality in hosting the farm tour.”

Tickets for the farm tours are priced at £30 per person and includes three farm visits, transport to and from the NAEC, Stoneleigh and hot beef lunch. A combined ticket for the Farm Tours and 2017 NBA Beef Expo for NBA members is £35, and for non NBA members is £40. Bookings can be made online, under the visitor section, or by contacting the NBA Head Office on 01434 601005.

Notes to Editor’s: Organised by the National Beef Association, the Beef Expo is a key date in the Beef industry calendar.
Hosted by the NBA this year at Stoneleigh’s NAEC on the 18th May the Expo will include The Commercial Cattle Show, the South Devons Championships, over 100 industry and educational trade stands, seminars, demonstrations, farm tours (17th May), beef industry dinner (17th May) and the Future Beef Farmer Challenge.
Trade stand applications, visitor tickets, farm tour tickets, industry dinner tickets and cattle show entry forms and future beef farmer entry forms are available online on the NBA Beef Expo website,, where further detailed information about the event can also be found.

For all Media and PR enquiries about Beef Expo please contact Tom Kinroy, Marketing and PR Manager Tel: 07738 229752 Email: [email protected]
Images and Logos can be requested from the Marketing and PR Manager.