Personally, I feel now is the time to be able to do both or agriculture is not going to be sustainable in today’s world.
Profitability and sustainability are the two buzzwords around the farming world, at the moment, and the UK’s livestock industry is ideally poised to take full advantage of the new payment ideas of being paid subsidies for environmental schemes.
We currently run an arable operation with potatoes, free range laying hens, finishing ducks, rearing pigs, Stabiliser suckler herd and renewables.
Each of us running our own enterprise yet working together towards the same goal, a profitable and sustainable farming business for the future.
I graduated from Harper Adams in 2005 and took over management of my enterprise in the business, the suckler herd.
Now in my second decade of farming at home, I have grown the suckler herd to 220 pure Stabiliser breeding females producing replacement heifers and breeding bulls, which are marketed through the Stabiliser Cattle Company.
The breed has helped our business to become profitable and sustainable, due to its ability to efficiently utilise forage and its outstanding ability to perform to the highest standards.
Currently, there is a lot of bad press around livestock farming and the negative impacts it has on the environment, but we should remember that suckled beef production utilises low quality forage, grown on marginal land, to produce high quality protein for human consumption.
By expanding the Stabiliser herd and using new technologies, such as measuring feed intake to identify animals that eat less feed for the same growth rate, and by using the power of genetic selection, I believe we can compete favourably in the market place going forward.
We are using these new technologies to measure twenty traits, from birth weight to net feed efficiency to mature cow weight.
This, in turn, provides us with Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) and helps us to identify the most profitable animals in the herd.
Feed efficiency is one of the main drivers of profitability, as feed costs represent the highest single cost of production.
The ability to measure feed intake on individual animals is a major breakthrough in reducing this cost. This is pioneering technology within the UK beef industry.
If all livestock producers could utilise this technology to make animals more feed efficient then there would be much less feed needed to produce the same amount of beef, which would help us all towards a more sustainable and profitable friendly future.
For more advice and information please get in touch at [email protected]
Edward Rook is a member of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group.