Report from Tina Russell, YDP National Coordinator
The Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society generously sponsored two of our YDP Seniors to attend brilliant 75th British Cattle Breeders Conference. John Smyth (Ireland) and Lizzie Harding (Buckinghamshire) were excellent ambassadors for our Youth Development Programme Exposure to industry pioneers and leaders was an opportunity to expand knowledge and network with industry partners.
Challenging Traditions was the focus of the event in this their 75th Anniversary year. The message from the Amy Hughes, Chair was a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.
“Today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and face the challenges of change”.
This philosophy ran through the programme with outstanding presentations from Arron Nerbas, Angus, Canada and his approach to farming cattle as a tool to grassland management and regenerating genetics; making cattle work for the system.
James Evans, Director of Farming at Grassroots Farming on regenerative supply chains.
Aled Evans, Beef Farmer, Carmarthenshire on controlling the variables of a dairy beef supply chain and Lucianne Allan, Sales and Marketing Director, Aubrey Allen, Coventry on Beef: Disparity and Destruction.
These were just a few of the thought-provoking speakers at the event. Look out for more opportunities like this over the year and grab them if you are invited to attend. You won’t regret it!
Conference Thoughts from Lizzie Harding, YDP Participant
I was very honoured to attend The British Cattle Breeder’s Club conference 2023 on behalf of the Aberdeen Angus Society. It was brilliantly organised with a variety of speakers from as far as Canada and I think it’s safe to say that I left with new knowledge which applies to both the farming sector and the content which I get taught as a Vet Student.
It was obvious the Aberdeen Angus breed was at the forefront of the sustainability pitches, especially during discussions about climate change implementing more outwintering and forage only systems. New contacts were formed and it was the perfect opportunity to network with a variety of industry people and farming representatives.
I just want to say thank you again to the Aberdeen Angus Society for giving me the opportunity to attend the BCBC. Anyone who has the opportunity to attend should definitely go because you end up leaving motivated and inspired on how we develop the industry with challenging times ahead.
Conference Thoughts from John Smyth, YDP Participant
I was very honoured to attend The British Cattle Breeder’s Club Conference 2023 on behalf of the Aberdeen Angus Society. It was an event that was themed around “challenging traditions”. Being in attendance really helped me paint a picture of the differences that is between the approaches taken in the republic of Ireland vs the UK.
The biggest things for me to take home was that fertility, good mothering ability, good locomotion and pelvis width were very important phenotypic traits in which a good suckler cow was derived from.
In comparison to ourselves in southern Ireland, the UK puts very little emphasis on EBV’s and genomics. The commercial suckler herd in Ireland through the likes of government funded schemes would have a massive emphasis on the ICBF €uro-star values and the incorporation of genomics to improve the reliability of these values.
The benefits of the ICBF €uro-star values to the EBV’s within the UK are that the ICBF can compare across the breeds and produce figures on all animals within the commercial herd not just only pedigrees. This data is derived from one centralised database which record every performance figure possible, be it industry partners such as AI companies and slaughterhouses to health traits and weights coming from the farmer. Due to commercial breeders also feeding information to this database, it allows for increased accuracies and faster genetic improvement.
It was evident from the majority of speakers that the breed of the moment that is ticking all the boxes is the Aberdeen Angus. With agriculture facing pressures surrounding emissions targets, Aberdeen Angus seems to be the breed that will help farmers lower their on-farm carbon footprints.
The most interesting speaker I found was a Welsh Vet Gareth Mulligan who was emphasising that farmers need to be recording data and information on their cattle to allow them to make more informed decisions around breeding. This may spark the need for a similar entity to ICBF within the UK to aid farmers in data recording and produce more farmer friendly reports to be used as another tool for farmers make decisions.
The evening events were quite enjoyable and gave good opportunity to engage with like-minded people to form good discussions based on the topics throughout the day. I am very lucky to say I have come away from the event with many new contacts that will certainly be useful down the line.
I would just like to thank the Aberdeen Angus Youth Development for sponsoring me to attend this event and I would strongly urge anyone who may be given the opportunity in the future to attend this event or something similar.