A change of cattle breed has changed the lifestyle, performance and profit for suckler beef farmers in the UK and France.
According to the Stabiliser Cattle Company (SCC), they continue to be the fastest growing breed of cattle in the UK.
The company say it is down to their moderate, easy calving frame with high fertility and efficient feed conversion traits have opened the gates to international export markets.
Recently, SCC and French beef genetic co-operative Bovinext reached an agreement for Bovinext to be the exclusive provider of Stabiliser genetics to French breeders.
Laurent Rouyer, president of Bovinext, says the driving factor behind the deal is French farmers are increasingly more aware of their native breeds becoming too big for the market and not delivering consistent, high marbled meat quality for which there is growing consumer demand.
These factors, and the desire to increase farm margins has already generated a lot of excitement on the French market, says Mr Rouyer, with 50 breeders already making plans to use Stabiliser semen and embryos.
The initial 5-year contract is set to deliver genetics through extensive semen sales and embryo transfers, with an initial target of 1000 Stabiliser breeding females in France.
Live cattle exports will also be a crucial component of meeting the target and the first set of breeding heifers will depart UK shores and hit French soil in November according to SCC technical manager Dr Duncan Pullar.
French born Stabiliser calves will be included in the UK EBV evaluation programme to ensure continued genetic progress and on-going links with Stabilisers in the UK.
“Including the performance data generated in France in our UK evaluation is going to make a good project even stronger because French breeders will be able to compare their cattle with those in the UK and make good breeding decisions based on the same EBVs,” says Pullar.
AHDB’s French export manager Rémi Fourrier, who works to position UK beef and lamb in France and facilitated the agreement, calls the initiative a “win-win” in its support of UK farmers while showcasing quality beef and genetics the UK has to offer.
SCC business development director Richard Fuller agrees, predicting the agreement would increase future demand for UK beef genetics.
“The potential in France is enormous for UK beef genetics by working with Bovinext’s million-cow network,” says Fuller.
“French breeds swept into the UK in the 1960s and 1970s because they outperformed the native breeds on growth and yield. How exciting now that we can export Stabiliser beef cattle genetics that excel in growth, yield and eating quality to the French. We fully expect more demand for our genetics.”