Niall Maloney and Kieran Hennessy enjoyed their trip to Bristol last week as part of their preparations for the Certifiied Angus Beef Compwtition.
On Monday and Tuesday last we travelled as part of a group to Bristol in an excursion organised by ABP and in association with the Certified Irish Angus Producers Group and Kepak as part of our project.
We flew Dublin to Bristol and visited animal feed mill in Calne. We experienced the process in making animal feed and received an interesting guided tour of the production facility from the site manager. This was an eye opening experience of the scale of production and the factors involved in producing cost effective feed on a large scale to meet the various nutritional requirements of the different production models. Following a presentation on the foundation and development of Blade farming we had the opportunity to chat with and discuss the possible benefits of the methods used by blade in beef production with its founder Richard along with Joanne; calf rearing manager and Seth; nutrition manager for contract calf rearing units.
We have a comfortable overnight in a local hotel where we were well looked after and enjoyed some Blade Angus steak. On Tuesday morning we had an early start, so bacon butty in hand we began our journey to visit the remaining three farms. We visited a rearing unit where we were very impressed with the automated calf feeding system which monitors calf progress on a daily basis and has reduced the labour input for the farmer and their impressive calf rearing units: bright, airy, clean and spacious. We then travelled to the idyllic setting of a beef finishing farm where the owners who although major cereal farmers have invested in an impressive Aberdeen Angus steer finishing unit which is notable for its simplicity attention to detail and efficiency.
Regular weighing of animals and ambitious targets for live weight gain are an important aspect of their system. Finally we visited a veal production unit where we were briefed on veal production in the U.K. and the high standards of animal welfare that are employed. Overall a very interesting snapshot of the latest developments in beef production in England.