Tom Edwards, postgraduate Royal Agricultural University (RAU) student, has been awarded a Master of Science by Research (MScR) by Thames Water.
RAU Buitelaar Partnership announced
Emily Edwards, Livestock Research Commercialisation Manager at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester, addressed representatives of the dairy beef supply chain industry at the recent Buitelaar conference, held at the Staffordshire Agricultural Showground.
The conference entitled ‘Putting Meat on the Bones’ provided a platform for the launch of the RAU’s new partnership with Buitelaar Production Limited.
Buitelaar is a highly innovative company recognised as one of the leading beef production chains in the UK and Ireland. In 2009, the company processed 20 bulls per fortnight, this has expanded significantly and Buitelaar now process 730 bulls per week, a 7,200% increase in production over nine years with trading across Europe and Asia.
The supply chain that Buitelaar operate is unique, and starts from the genetic composition of the calf during breeding and concludes with tailored products for the UK consumer. The company operates audited calf collection centres, rearing units, follow on units, endorsed slaughter houses, and production lines for Rosé veal and British beef, which is supplied to the consumer via supermarkets, foodservices, multiple restaurants, and pub chain sectors. This ensures traceability across the entire supply chain.
Despite significant industry expansion there are still inconsistencies within the UK supply chain with the rearing and fattening of calves being highly variable across farms. The RAU Buitelaar partnership will aim to create a blueprint for calf rearing in the UK, with a trial unit being located at the RAU’s Harnhill farm. Synergy Farm Health also form part of the collaboration and provide professional veterinary input as well as robust trial methodology.
The trial unit will look specifically at the calf rearing stage which is viewed as the most critical part of the dairy beef supply chain. This will enable the development of a blueprint that not only optimises the critical function of milk feeding to solids, but also examines the physiology, growth, and development that will directly influence the further stages along the supply chain.
The key aim of this partnership is a focus on nutrition and growth as well as health management. The research focus will be from a perspective that measures weight gain daily, feed conversion, and cost of gain, as well as the medicines used and health of the calf. It is envisaged that this will enable better efficiencies in calf rearing systems, lowering the gross margins and encouraging new and young entrants to the industry. Additionally, it will streamline production and enable a more consistent product.
There are many challenges that face the UK farming industry; including exit from the European Union as well as the preventative use of antibiotics which are set to be restricted by the government in the not so distant future. The partnership will look to transform these challenges into opportunities with the trial unit looking to identify aspects well in advance in order to ensure that rearers across the UK are prepared and equipped for change. One key focus of the trial unit will be to ensure that research is iterative with a steering committee of top industry leaders being appointed to ensure that the partnership research aims are fluid and forward thinking.
RAU students will benefit from the research outcomes of the unit as well as access to a highly innovative way of farming in today’s agricultural climate.