Native breeds scheme on target
Morrisons is seeking to increase its weekly kill of Beef Shorthorn sired cattle by 15% to over 400 head to supply its native breeds’ scheme. The supermarket chain’s plans reflect its long standing commitment to the breed coupled with consumer demand.
In return, finishers are being rewarded with a 20p/kg premium over base price or up to £75 a head, while other eligible native breed cattle are paid a 10p/kg premium.
Since Wm Morrison Supermarkets and Woodheads officially launched the scheme 12 months ago, it has achieved its initial target and sourced over 18,000 British native breeds and their crosses. Initially, approximately 25% of that total volume was Beef Shorthorn sired, a figure that has increased to one third in recent months, explains Morrisons’ farm operations manager, Andrew Loftus.
“These Beef Shorthorn sired cattle are being finished on a new feeding regime specifically designed to enhance the breed’s inherent eating quality and produce a premium product. So far, they have achieved an average 334kg in 22 months, and 60% graded R or better,” he says. “Consequently, in view of the Beef Shorthorn sired cattle’s commendable performance, for the scheme’s second year we are forecasting their growth to be around 15%, equivalent to an additional 3,000 head.”
Beef Shorthorn Society secretary, Frank Milnes comments: “We are pleased that Beef Shorthorn sired cattle are meeting with Morrisons specification. One of the breed’s major attractions has been the ability to produce a functional suckler cow: now that we have a premium scheme for Beef Shorthorn beef we are aware from registration trends that even more farmers are being encouraged to use the Beef Shorthorn bull in their commercial suckler herds. We continue to have a win win situation.”
Morrisons exclusive partnership with the Beef Shorthorn Society promotes the use of registered and DNA recorded Beef Shorthorn bulls in the UK suckler herd. Under the scheme farmers, including those who already supply Woodheads, are required to apply for approval at least 100 days before they send their first native breed cattle to one of the firm’s three abattoirs in Lancashire, Lincolnshire and Aberdeenshire.
Eligible steer or heifers, must come from farm assured units and weigh between 260kg and 380kg CCW. Bulls and OTMS cattle are not eligible. The company has developed a special carcase grid for the scheme which includes O+ cattle within the target specification. To register, contact Woodhead Bros, Colne on 01282 729117