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Stakeholders focus on beef from the dairy herd

Scottish red meat and dairy interests are committed to maximising the potential for beef production from the dairy herd in Scotland. Looking at the opportunities and challenges ahead for the beef sector in Scotland, stakeholders are keen to develop the role that dairy cross beef can play.

NFU Scotland facilitated a recent meeting to consider how the beef sector can fully utilise the potential of the dairy sector.  It involved contributions from Scottish Government officials, the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB); Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS), the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW), beef processors Scotbeef and ABP, the Scottish Dairy Hub and SRUC, demonstrating the importance of collaboration.

The key message was that all are committed to working together to increase the quality and quantity of cattle from both the dairy and beef herds that are being presented for processing in Scotland.

Beef production and processing in Scotland faces challenges including, first and foremost, levels of profitability that are, at best, marginal.  That has seen a decline in overall beef production and processing capacity and risks to critical mass.

All parties agreed that, with the UK only 75 percent self-sufficient in beef, the opportunities are there for both import substitution as well as increasing exports.  That is feasible given the strength of the Scottish brand, backed by the work and reputation of farmers, processors and QMS.

Speaking after the meeting, NFU Scotland Vice President Gary Mitchell said: “The key focus of this meeting was to assess the potential for increased production of quality of beef from the dairy sector to complement beef from the suckler sector.

“There was agreement that dairy has the potential to provide significant numbers of beef bred animals for beef production if the breeding and systems on dairy farms can deliver the right product to rearers, finishers, and processors, while meeting the needs of the final customers.

“The group agreed there is merit in exploring existing supply chain initiatives; assessing the potential in Scotland to develop pilot schemes; assessing breeding, feeding and management systems; considering the potential to develop calf rearing systems with professional expertise and initiatives to streamline efficiency and collaboration.

“The encouraging aspect of this meeting was the acceptance by all, including Scottish Government, that beef production is an iconic sector in Scotland, and that collaboration from all players could build on the important contribution made by beef from our dairy herd.”