Previously, around 73% of the cattle Pickstock Telford processed were meeting their target weights and grade, but this was now closer to 88%, with very few overweight cattle now being received, the processor said.
This improvement was down to more farmers recognising the financial benefits of getting cattle away sooner and focusing on processors’ specifications, added Gareth Parker, the company’s livestock procurement officer.
“The old adage of ‘weight always pays’ has been a difficult concept to overcome, but when you scrutinise the figures, the improvement in profit margins that can be achieved by finishing cattle in spec and in fewer days is clear,” said Parker.
Taking into consideration grid penalties for overweight cattle, the additional feed costs and time involved in an extended finishing period, Parker said there was an increase in net profit finishing cattle earlier, within specification.
There are also other financial benefits to factor in for the farmer, including greater capacity to increase the throughput of finishing cattle through a shed per year, plus bedding and labour savings.
“With ever-increasing retail demand for consistency, when it comes to meat on the shelf, it’s crucial that we produce products that are the same weight and size, and fit within specific packaging guidelines,” explained Parker.
“This means the more animals we receive in specification, the better the price we can offer our farmers.
Working closer with farmers
“Our procurement team is working much closer with farmers to help assess cattle. An increasing number of producers are now weighing regularly and monitoring growth rates.”
While “multiple factors” affected current market value, Parker said getting cattle finished to market spec paid dividends for farmers when it came to maximising profitability.
“At the end of the day, sustainable beef production is important for the whole supply chain and an integrated approach can support this, but consistency and accuracy at every stage is key,” he added.
Formerly Pickstock Ashby, Pickstock Telford changed its name in 2014 with the opening of a £10m factory in the town.
Earlier this year, Pickstock revealed it had introduced a new livestock management system courtesy of Systems Integration, sponsor of the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2020.