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     Beef Unit

    Introduction

    Historically the Harper Adams University beef unit has been stocked with cattle that have been purchased for trial studies and then gone on to finish for beef for HAU kitchens. As of July 2022, under the formation of Future Farm, the beef unit has been fully stocked with cattle bred from the dairy unit.

    What we do...

    The cattle provided have been dairy x beef animals from Hereford, Angus and predominantly British Blue beef sires. The calves join the unit once they have been weaned from the youngstock unit, usually in batches of five. They go on a transition diet of grass, maize, straw and a protein blend alongside weaner pellets until they have fully transitioned onto the beef Total Mixed Ration (TMR) diet. By supplying the beef unit with home-produced cattle we reduce the risk of buying in diseases and improve our biosecurity policy.

    It also helps with our mission to reach net zero by 2030 by allowing the farm to produce beef with low carbon footprint animals, which will further be emphasised as the ES Farm Productivity group is trying to implement that all beef cattle would be reared outside on home-grown forage to further reduce the carbon footprint of the animals. More information on this is on the ES Farm Productivity group page.

    Each pen within the beef yard can comfortably accommodate up to 6 animals through to finishing weights, the same animals will remain in a group and we avoid mixing them due to stress and possible fighting and also to avoid problems when heifers come in oestrus. We do not keep entire male cattle on site due to the implications of health and safety and the risk they may pose to staff and students, as well as avoiding any unwanted breeding mishaps!

    How we do it...

    All our cattle are bred using Artificial Insemination, several members of staff are fully trained in AI and have very successful fertility figures across the different herds. This also gives us the flexibility to use specific bulls for trial work as requested by commercial partners or the academic team. With careful planning we can breed cattle to suit a study, such as Angus x calves for a grazing trial or Limousine x calves for a high protein finishing diet trial.

    Why we do it...

    Some of the beef building is part of the Home Office licence facilities and as such we can carry out Home Office procedures under ASPA for beef research studies. We also carry out many commercial studies which do not require work to be done under Home Office conditions, such as feed comparisons against growth weights. There is a cattle handling unit next to the beef yards which can be used to safely weigh and treat cattle when required, most cattle are weighed on a weekly basis and the data is available for students and as a farm management tool, as the cattle have EID tags allowing the tag to be linked to a reader and wand to record data automatically.

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