A major industry project is looking to boost both the profitability and environmental credentials of beef farms in Wales by bringing farmers and vets together in an initiative to maximise herd fertility.
Improving the fertility of cattle – through proactive measures such as timely pregnancy detection and monitoring the health of cows – is a recognised way of improving the efficiency of beef herds and reducing the output of greenhouse gases such as methane.
Now, out of over a hundred beef enterprises enrolled on the Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Stoc+ animal health project, 47 have signed up to take part in an intensive project to maximise their cattle fertility. Vets will visit farms up to four times to carry out various activity to help improve fertility among the herd.
The Stoc+ Project promotes proactive flock and herd health management – to help Wales lead the world in animal welfare, sustainability and efficiency – and is one strand of the Red Meat Development Programme, a 5-year Welsh Government and European Union-funded initiative.
HCC Flock and Herd Health Officer Lowri Williams explained the reasons behind the fertility drive.
“Our aim this Spring is to assess the benefits of implementing recognised cattle fertility management tools on farm,” said Lowri. “The project will encourage farmers to carry out routine timely pregnancy detection, pelvic scoring and body condition scoring to improve calving interval, the ease of calving and increase the overall health and productivity of suckler herds.”
She added, “Research carried out for HCC’s environmental vision, The Welsh Way, showed that fertility improvements such as reducing the average calving interval and improving calves’ growth rates and survival, can be central to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from beef farming by over 10%.”
One farm taking part in the scheme is Sarnau Fawr in Llanfihangel y Creuddyn, Ceredigion.
Farmer Rhys Lewis said: “Being part of the beef fertility project will help us work closely and proactively with our vets.”
“Through this we can gain efficiency and therefore produce a more profitable suckler herd, as well as reducing emissions in the long term,” added his brother Huw Lewis.
HCC’s Stoc+ is one of three 5-year projects in the Red Meat Development Programme which is funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.