Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Charolais Breeding Success

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Charolais Breeding Success

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jennifer Mackenzie

Steve Nesbitt remains quietly optimistic about the future of the UK's beef industry under the new Single Farm Payment regime.

"Like any other sector undergoing major change, those who decide to stay in business will be profit-driven," he said. "To maximise returns, they'll be forced to produce a high-performing quality beast, and there is evidence that the trend is already starting to kick in.

"Within the first few weeks of 2005, trade for quality Charolais crosses is looking stronger than ever. The gap between Charolais crosses and other continental crosses has started to widen even further as finishers realize that Charolais cross cattle are streets ahead on growth rate.

"Charolais crosses will reach target weight from 15 months onwards and, compared with other continental crosses, they will achieve at least 50kg growth advantage over the same time period, a yield worth more than pounds 60, which will go a long way towards covering the loss of the second BSP payment," added Steve who, together with his father Doug and brother David, runs Alwent Hall, an owner occupier farm near Winston, just a stone's throw over the North Yorkshire border. The Nesbitts have over the years placed their eggs in more than one basket, which is enabling them now to be better placed to adjust to the new regime. Alwent comprises a 200-acre mix of grassland and arable, it carries a prize-winning flock of 120 pedigree Texel ewes, and redundant farm buildings have been converted to workshops and facilities for Pye Bibby's regional retail outlet.

However, it is the family's 40-cow pedigree Charolais herd producing high performance bulls for the suckler sector, as well as for other breeders, that Steve says will continue to remain at the heart of the business.

"We established the herd 25 years ago as a hobby. However, it has evolved to become a serious commercial venture that nowadays makes up a significant part of our overall farm income," he said.

"In fact, Charolais is now by far my biggest interest and the herd is here to stay until I pack up farming. …

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