Farmers at Wynnstay’s Sheep & Beef Event held at Welshpool Livestock Market on Friday, 14th August were advised by key note speakers that teamwork across the supply chain will help beef and sheep producers drive efficiencies and future-proof their businesses.
Experts from industries including retail, banking and science said that against a backdrop of market volatility and poor prices, producers needed to look at all aspects of their businesses to see where they could make improvements – and where possible work more closely with retailers and processors to drive efficiencies.
One presentation by Waitrose head of agriculture, Duncan Sinclair, said a more joined-up approach would help the sector share ideas and improve the way it produced food. Addressing some of the 800 visitors who attended the event, Mr Sinclair said the retailer aimed to grow its business by focusing on securing supplies, optimising efficiency, being environmental sustainability and engaging with people across the chain.
To help achieve that, the industry should look at working with a range of players, from researchers and educators, to training providers, producers, customers and the government to innovate and drive efficiencies – an approach farmers needed to embrace too.
Nuffield Scholar and vet Rob Drysdale also stressed the importance of integration across the production system to help improve business efficiency, output and margins.
During his presentation on the future of beef production from dairy herds, Mr Drysdale described a number of cattle businesses he had visited across the United States and New Zealand, where farmers appraise their systems as a whole, rather than separate elements.
By integrating elements such as housing, nutrition, and animal health, farmers could concentrate on running efficient systems which produced exactly what customers were looking for, as opposed to producing what they have always produced.
Working backwards from a target product would help producers how they should be operating and what systems they should have in place, he added. Farmers need to adapt to an ever changing consumer demand and change the way that they produce livestock for processors.
The talks were just two of a number of presentations from an impressive line-up of speakers who gave farmers an insight to the latest developments and issues affecting the beef and lamb sectors.
Other speakers included Ryan Law of Dunbia, HSBC regional agricultural director Euryn Jones and sheep and beef farmer Tom Jones of Pentre Farm, Dolanog, who talked about the findings of his HCC Scholarship to New Zealand where he had seen first-hand examples of farm efficiencies.
In addition to the extensive line-up of speakers, visitors were also able to see a range of trade stands covering various production aspects, including feed and supplements, equipment and machinery, and animal health, as well as demonstrations on animal handling, electronic weighing systems, and EID software.
Ken Greetham, Wynnstay chief executive, said the event offered farmers the chance to hear some fresh ideas about how they could approach sheep and beef production and improve information flow within the supply chain.
“There isn’t a great amount of positivity in the livestock sector at the moment as the result of unsustainable milk and lamb prices, but that’s what made this event so important,” he said.
“We wanted to emphasise to producers that there is a future in the livestock sectors, that there are reasons to be positive and that there are steps they can take to make their businesses more profitable by looking at efficiencies at every stage of the production process.”
For more information about this year’s event or future events, please contact us.