AN AWARD-winning beef producer is planning to replace his entire suckler
beef herd with 300 dairy cows in a bid to stay profitable in the wake of Brexit.
Blaencwmpridd farm at Synod Inn near the Cardiganshire coast extending to 355 acres, is managed by brothers James and Alec Cowan, this year's winners of the highly-prestigious Welsh Suckler
Herd of the Year competition jointly organised by British Charolais Cattle Society and Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC).
The project was originally designed to enable North West suckler
producers to introduce composite breeding strategies as a catalyst to improve the efficiency and quality of beef production and subsequently enhance the competitiveness of their suckler
herds, and that objective has never before been more relevant.
The 1,200-acre unit - mostly mountain land extending to 2,200ft - also has 40 suckler
cows, mainly pedigree Welsh Blacks.
FATHER and son Brendan and Brian Atkinson have taken a serious strategic look at their beef production system since decoupling and they are using a combination of out-wintering and conversion to Stabilisers to keep their suckler
By adapting his ewe breeding policy he is now producing lambs with higher slaughter weights; and demand for his quality suckler
cattle is likely to see numbers more than double in the next 18 months.
The Limousins, which now run to 100 breeding cows, and the Charolais, numbering 60 cows, took the place of a 250-cow commercial suckler
'I can't see people with suckler
cows on the hills being able to keep them as before unless fat cattle prices rise.'
THE DAVIES family of Bryniog Ucha, near Llanrwst, have always been noted pioneers: the late John Davies was the first farmer in North Wales to buy a Land Rover, he was among the first to invest in a tractor and, in 1930, a time when dairying predominated, he was again ahead of the game, establishing a suckler
Following visits to Givendale, Yorkshire, and the Lilburn Estate near Wooler by Dixon family members, it was felt that the Stabiliser breed offered them the way ahead by enabling them to run a low cost, easy care suckler
enterprise, breeding their own replacements into a closed herd.
The Leachman Stabiliser cow, the result of years of intensive research into composite breeding methods in the US, is seen as the ideal suckler
cow because it enables beef producers to breed their own replacements rather than depending on dairy cross heifers.
Dairy bull throughput at UK abattoirs was down 14% between January and March this year compared with last and live exports are also expected to strip more high quality weaned suckler
bulls for feeding in Spain and Italy if current price differentials with the UK market persist ( which means next year's slaughter figures could be lower too.