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February

08

Cogent Beef Visions success in Gloucestershire

One producer seeing excellent results from Cogent Beef Visions sires is Gloucestershire-based David Webb, who farms at Upper Ley Farm in Westbury On Severn alongside his family.  The Webb's have farmed here since 1972, with David being the second generation.

Cogent Beef Visions was developed to improve the national herd by providing reliable information collected across a vast array of farming systems, Cogent's Visions Programme helps validate the genomic predictions for young bulls. Through accurately selecting and proving the bulls that enter our Visions Programme, Cogent is able to supply breed leading sires to our customers. This aids improvement in the quality, productivity and profitability of their herds, as well as strengthening the national genetic base.

Upper Ley Farm is home to 1,100 cattle on 550 acres of which 100 acres is winter wheat and maize and 450 is grassland. The farm is managed as an integrated system whereby both a beef and dairy unit have been established at the farm meaning that all beef calves born on the dairy unit are finished on the beef unit.

The dairy herd consists of 230 milking Holsteins which are averaging 11,000 litres per year on a Sainsbury's milk contract.  Almost four years ago the family made the decision to install robots as their herd was expanding, David explains "rather than having to increase the amount of labour on our dairy unit due to increased numbers the robots have saved time and therefore we have been able to transfer our time across to the beef unit". Not only have the robots saved time at Upper Ley Farm but they have also increased the milk yield from 9,000 to 11,000 litres.

The herd is managed as an all year-round calving system, David says "All of our heifers are served at 13 and a half months because we aim to calve them at 24 months old", of which all these heifers are artificially inseminated with sexed semen to generate more replacements for the herd. In the future, the family aim to look at using Cogent Sexed Semen 4M to ensure the business runs as efficiently as possible.

The beef unit at Upper Ley Farm is also on a Sainsbury's Aberdeen Angus beef contract and therefore the Webb's have been incorporating Cogent Aberdeen Angus Visions sires into their breeding programme since 2011. These sires include Thrunton Picador, Oakchurch De Admiral and Quaker Hill Dead Center of which they have produced great results. David says, "when selecting bulls, we mainly focus on calving ease as easy calving is a must". This to ensure that assisted calving's are all kept to a minimal. Calf quality is also another important factor for the herd, David explains, "the calves are good quality having great strength and depth, so we are very happy with them".

The calves sired by the Beef Visions sires are all reared on milk and then are transferred across to the beef unit once weaned. These are then fed between 3-4kg/day of cake and 1kg/day of forage as well as having a grazing period between 5 and 6 months.

In addition to the Aberdeen Angus calves sired by Cogent Beef Visions bulls, Blade Farming also provide Webbley Ltd with calves for their rearing unit for make up the volume for the Sainsbury's beef contract. These arrive at the age of 16 weeks and stay on the farm until they are finished.  "The calves arrive in batches according age and we keep them in these groups throughout their duration at the farm- it just maintains consistency" David explains.

For more information on Cogent Beef Visions products please call one of the Cogent Team on 0800 783 7258.