Harper Adams University Beef Unit

By | 8th June 2017

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Harper Adams University Beef Unit

The beef unit at Harper Adams University is based on finishing Continental cross Holstein and Holstein bulls from the University’s 390 cow dairy herd. Weaned suckled calves are also occasionally purchased for ‘yard finishing’ and approximately 130 cattle per year are finished. The cattle are reared on either cereal or silage beef systems. This allows for very good integration with the University farm with the beef unit rearing calves from the dairy herd and using home grown for age and cereals for feed, straw for bedding with the beef cattle supplying manure for the arable ground.
The last batch of British Blue x Holstein bulls reared on a barley beef system recorded overall daily live weight gains of 1.43kg from birth to slaughter (1.58kg from 12 weeks old to slaughter) at 13.1 months old weighing 616kg killing out at 55.0% to produce a 338kg carcass grading R3. The latest batch of Holstein bulls were reared through to slaughter at 13.3 months old weighing 572kg (288kg carcass wt).
In previous years bulls have also been finished on silage (whole crop and maize) based systems. Holstein bulls recently finished on good quality maize silage diets with 2.5kg of concentrates/head/day were slaughtered at 15.3 months old weighing 589kg (2
95kg carcass wt).
The beef unit provides opportunities for trial work to be carried out with calves and finishing cattle on projects for commercial organizations and offers a resource for education and demonstration activities. Within the unit is a range of stock types so students can for example see at first hand the difference in performance and conformation between Holstein and Continental bred cattle. All of the cattle, including calves, are assigned to Honours Research Projects which are carried out by up to twelve final year degree students. The student takes responsibility under the guidance of University technicians for recording data such as liveweight, wither height, last rib girth measurement and feed intakes. Trials involving finishing cattle will involve collation of data from the abattoir (ABP Shrewsbury) on carcase grade, killing out percent and liver scores. The cattle are weighed every 30 days and are used for beef production tutorial practicals. The facility is also available for short course teaching with ‘in-class’ theory being demonstrated with ‘hands-on’ experience in the beef unit.

Some of the recently completed calf and beef trials are shown below:

  • Oats for intensively finished bulls (funded by AHDB B&L).
  • Evaluation of rations with different protein levels for 300kg Continental x Holstein bulls.
  • Evaluation of Top 10% and Top 70% Terminal Index Angus bulls (funded by AHDB and Genus Plc).
  • Effect of a yeast culture (Diamond V XPLS) on the performance of intensively fed bulls (funded by Rumenco Ltd).
  • Evaluation of of Rosé and Cereal Beef Production for Holstein bulls (funded by ASDA).
  • Evaluation of early weaning concentrate quality on the performance and health of artificially reared beef calves to 12 weeks (funded by Bonanza Calf Nutrition).
  • Evaluation of calf coats on the performance and health of artificially reared beef calves to 12 weeks (funded by Wynnstay Group Plc). Read more