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Weighing up beef benefits

Published Monday, 13th November 2017 in Livestock and Dairy news

Gavin Hill with students at the beef cattle demonstration at AgriScot
Pictured: Gavin Hill with students at the beef cattle demonstration at AgriScot.

An interactive beef demonstration at AgriScot this month is set to highlight the herd management and profitability benefits of regularly weighing cattle.

The demonstration, supported by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), will for the first time involve audience participation. Visitors will be encouraged to use digital voting pads and take part in a simple quiz to help bring home the benefits of regular weighingGavin Hill, Head of SAC Consulting’s Beef & Sheep team, will lead the demonstration at the event on November 15th, assisted by a team of students from SRUC's Oatridge campus.

The aim of the demonstration, according to Douglas Bell, QMS Head of Industry Development, is to raise awareness of the role of weighing as a fundamental measurement of livestock performance.

“The regular weighing of growing cattle allows their performance to be carefully monitored and changes, for example to rations, can be made in good time if identified early,” said Mr Bell.

“Weighing is an important tool when selecting cattle for slaughter, to ensure processor requirements are met.”

Regular weighing of cattle can also help to Identify animals which are not achieving target liveweight gains, observed Gavin Hill, as well as giving an early warning signal of underlying health issues.

Taking time to analyse weigh records over a number of years, Mr Hill said, can also identify cows in a herd which consistently produce “poor doing” calves.

“A further benefit of weighing is that the correct dosage of veterinary medicines can be accurately gauged, avoiding over-dosing or under-dosing as a result of guessing weights or going with a herd average,” said Mr Hill.

As well as the day-to-day herd management benefits, weighing cattle can also help with more strategic decisions in relation to beef production systems.

“Cow efficiency in terms of the weight of calf weaned per 100kg of cow, is increasingly being recognised as a key benchmark for suckler herds trying to maximise efficiency. Clearly, if cows and calves are not weighed, this ratio cannot be calculated with any certainty.”

The demonstration is scheduled to start in the main ring of AgriScot on 15 November at 11.30am.

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