New app to help farmers finish cattle to retailers’ specifications
A shift in consumer preferences has led the beef industry unprepared to respond to the market demand a new approach is needed. Now, an app launched by Breedr in conjunction with Rothamsted Research can make the corrections necessary to adapt the farm production to consumer's taste.
Breedr co-founder Ian Wheal was brought up on a mixed livestock farm in Australia, where his father was one of the first to adopt electronic tagging. The tags capture information about the performance of individual animals and enable an audit trail to be created of tests and treatments, time on grass and other animal health and welfare interventions, reports Farming UK magazine.
"There is a big drive towards loin steaks and burgers from consumers, however, the current EU-wide EUROP grading system, which is used to value beef, was originally designed when rump was the main piece of beef consumed. The result is that today’s farmers are flying blind when trying to meet the specifications of retailers for meat with less fat and improved taste," explains Ian Wheal.
Instead of that system, Breedr co-founder suggests a different approach based on "better understanding of how genetics and breeding can create a desirable frame size. Also, to investigate how the use of 3D camera technology can help standardize measurement and give a much earlier predictor of value, and better align to the actual needs of a processor".
The start-up is working with Professor Michael Lee, Head of Sustainable Agricultural Sciences at Rothamsted Research and Chair in Sustainable Livestock Systems at Bristol Veterinary School, on the Field to Yield project, which is funded by the Impact Labs.
"Our research shows that it is possible to produce livestock with the desired attributes within 18 months from pasture-based finishing, to balance the needs of production efficiency, product quality, and environmental impact. But to achieve such targets requires excellent pasture management, appropriate animal genetics and visualization tools to predict carcass and eating quality", added prof. Lee.
AHDB data suggest that if customers have a bad eating experience it can take up to 12 weeks for them to buy that specific cut of meat again.
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