Thursday, 30 October 2014

Breeders’ survey launched to add value to beef and sheep industry

To help farmers get the best possible return from their business, EBLEX operates a number of knowledge-transfer projects which allow us to share best practice with them.

These initiatives go through various stages, but most start life with our research and development (R&D) team and are born out of the need for a solution to an emerging problem.

In order to accumulate the information that we use for these projects, we need to engage with people from throughout the supply chain, and our latest hunt for information, which is currently in the R&D stage, is aimed at beef and sheep breeders.

As part of a national genetic improvement survey, EBLEX has commissioned a 20 minute online questionnaire which is designed to help evaluate the impact of breed improvement on the UK beef and sheep industries.

Genetic improvement has an important role in the industry, a message which EBLEX is keen for producers to listen to. The questionnaire which has been commissioned forms part of a wider review into the way in which resources are used in this area. The benefits to the industry of genetic improvement were last estimated in 2006/07 and since then there has been an increase in emerging technologies.

Therefore the review aims to assess whether or not the current allocation of resources is the most appropriate, and also explore different models that may offer better delivery of breed improvement in the future. Other goals include quantifying the financial benefits of genetic improvement in the sector, reviewing the delivery of breed improvement services and identifying opportunities to improve uptake.
Since the questionnaire went live three days ago (Monday, 27th October), 72 breeders have responded. This is a positive start and hopefully means there will continue to be a high response rate. Of course, online surveys like this are always affected by the usual challenges that poor internet connection in rural areas present, and so alternative plans are in place.

Anyone signed up to Signet Breeding Services, the part of EBLEX which provides genetic evaluations to livestock producers to help them identify sheep and cattle with superior breeding potential, will receive a paper version of the questionnaire in the post soon, and for those that aren’t signed up, a PDF version is available to print off, complete and return.

It is important that as many breeders as possible take part in the survey so that the findings are well informed when they are calculated and fed back into the industry to help the beef and sheep meat supply chain to become more efficient.

The questionnaire will be online until November 28th this year, and once collated the results will be used to deliver change to the industry at the earliest opportunity.