Thursday 8th June 2017
Scotlands Beef Event

Innovative Beef Breeding Technology to be Feature of Scotland's Beef Event 2015

7th April 2015

The latest technology to ensure easy and timeous calving in beef suckler cows, and facilitate the wider use of top breeding bulls, will be demonstrated at Scotland’s Beef Event 2015 at Mains of Mause, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, on Wednesday, May 27.

The on-farm event, adopting the theme, Beef from the Hills, is being organised by the Scottish Beef Association, with Clydesdale Bank as main sponsor, and hosted by farmer, Peter Alexander, and his son, Murray, who run a suckler herd of 1000 Limousin cross cows on four farms.

AI is being introduced to inseminate 300 cows and heifers with the adoption of new technology being used for the first time in a commercial beef herd in Scotland to determine the optimum time for insemination.

The cows and heifers will be fitted with collars linked to a heat detector from French monitoring company, Medria, which sends signals to a mobile ‘phone, via a base station, to alert the stockman that a female is ready for service.

The same technology is used to predict time of calving using a probe fitted with a thermometer which is inserted into the cow or heifer and triggers a warning text to the stockman’s ‘phone 48 hours before calving is due.  A further signal is sent when the probe is expelled with the amniotic sac which alerts the stockman that calving has started.

“We have to embrace new technology and I believe this is the way ahead,” says Mr Alexander. “It will make life easier for the stockman and will be of tremendous benefit at calving time. It will ensure females are inseminated at the optimum peak of heat and should improve calving percentage in the herd and tighten the calving period.”

Mr Alexander admits he has lacked the confidence to use AI in the past but is hopeful the new technology now available, which is used widely in dairy herds and some pedigree beef herds, will improve the calving performance of the herd.

But the biggest benefit, he says, will be the opportunity to put top genetics back into the herd by using semen from outstanding sires, such as Newhouse Nougat, Graham’s Trooper and Greenwood Black Poll Home Run, which proved themselves in the herd when they were alive.

“We have semen available from a number of former stock bulls which have done us well over the years and it will be interesting to bring some of these genetics back into the herd,” he says.

Another innovation which the Alexander’s have introduced is measuring the pelvis of heifers at 14 months of age just before they are due to be served for the first time to calve down at two years of age.

Heifers which fail to measure up are culled and finished for slaughter. The aim is to maintain ease of calving which is a valuable characteristic of the Limousin breed. The first heifers selected on the basis of pelvic size are due to calve before the Beef Event.

Mr Alexander is confident these practical technical developments will be of interest to commercial beef producers and will help improve the calving percentage in the herd.

“It’s all about improving the performance and profitability of suckler herds by producing more calves for each cow or heifer put to the bull,” he says.

Scotland’s Beef Event 2015 is shaping up to be a major event for the beef industry in Scotland and is expected to attract a huge number of farmers from throughout Scotland and further afield.

The flock of 2000 Blackface, Mule and Texel cross ewes will also be of interest to visitors, along with the high standard of grassland management which underpins the whole operation.

In addition to Clydesdale Bank as main sponsor, sponsors include ABP Ltd, British Limousin Cattle Society, East Coast Viners Ltd, Harbro Ltd, R M Welch and Son Ltd, Scotbeef Ltd, Almins Ltd, HRN Tractors Ltd, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), United Auctions, Lawrie and Symington, Bidwells, NFU Scotland, Norbroook Laboratories (GB) Ltd and SRUC/SAC Consulting.

A total of 80 trade stands have been confirmed so far, with bookings still being accepted, and 15 beef breed societies will be mounting demonstrations.

Further information available from Natalie Cormack, Organiser, Scotland’s Beef Event 2015, on 07712 623669. E-mail: Natalie.cormack@btconnect.com