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29 April 2024

Report Highlights Steps to Improve Environmental Impact and Boost Profitability in Beef Herds

A joint report between levy bodies Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, QMS and AHDB has highlighted practical steps farmers can take to improve their environmental impact and become more profitable.

Dr Heather McCalman, HCC’s Research and Development and Sustainability Executive, said: “This report was commissioned in response to the challenges facing the UK suckler beef sector and offers really practical tools for farmers so they are in a strong position to address those issues.”

The study explored how 16 practices across four categories – genetics and breeding, calving and fertility, feed, and management – both individually and collectively could contribute to increased productivity and profitability, and reduced environmental impact.

The study highlighted that, while outcomes have been assessed separately, they are interrelated.

Dr McCalman said:

“Improving efficiency on-farm will result in reduced costs and increased profitability. Many practices that improve productivity, like reducing age at first calving, result in a reduction in the number of replacements required, which has a positive knock-on environmental effect. Fewer replacements mean less enteric methane, less manure – which reduces nitrous oxide, ammonia and nitrate leaching – and less feed requirement, resulting in lower embedded emissions.”

Statutory targets, including the requirement for the UK to reach Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and increasing requirements from the supply chain for beef produced with low greenhouse gas emissions, necessitate that farmers make improvements to their production systems.

“Adopting farm practices that improve efficiency will help meet environmental goals and improve profitability.  This work gives farmers and advisors a clear picture of the evidence of how management practices can help effective decision making,” said Dr McCalman.

“The outputs of this research will enable farmers to review and improve current farm practices and take advantage of practical advice that will boost productivity, profitability and improve environmental impacts. This gathers and provides insights and robust evidence to support and promote the beef sector.”

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