Digest 74


Chair Anya Westland

Message from the Chair

‘It’s a wrap!’ –  BCBC Conference 2019

All good things come to an end, so they say and the 2019 British Cattle Breeders Conference was the culmination of my year as Chairperson. The theme of the 2019 BCBC was all about building the brand of UK genetics, breeding and livestock farming to build on our uniqueness. The mix of talks from farmers, researchers, geneticists, students and the agricultural industry including retailers, identified unique ways to take cattle breeding and associated businesses to new markets and identified new opportunities.

Over the two and half days of workshops, conference papers, lunch, coffees and dinner, conference attendees engaged in lively discussions and embraced the opportunity to inform themselves of the latest developments in research, technology and best farming practices from the UK, Jersey, USA, Australia and New Zealand to enhance the future of UK cattle breeding and genetics.

The conference was opened by Minette Batters, President of the NFU, who highlighted both the challenges and opportunities of the upcoming potential Brexit deal or ‘No deal’ options for agriculture and in particular livestock. This was followed on day two by Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer, who focused on UK USP’s when exporting on a global market and how we needed to continue to focus on our high standards of animal health, welfare and traceability.

Several papers were presented by industry and breeding experts including Dr Stephen Miller from USA, Dr Robert Banks from Australia and Max Tweedie from New Zealand presenting papers on how farmers can access genomics and EBV’s more readily for ensuring breed viability and consistency, increasing rate of genetic gain more efficiently and at lower costs than before. They all emphasised the need to keep repeating the basics of good breeding practices and recording data.

Over the two and half days seven papers were presented or co-presented by farmers who detailed opportunities to develop, protect, build and promote their brands ranging from specific breeds, developing new markets for their outputs or using breeding strategies to improve efficiency, health, and consistency of their products. These papers were hugely personal and gave a very positive outlook on the challenges, achievements and future ambitions.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the BCBC committee, our President, Professor Mike Coffey and of course our hardworking secretary Heidi Bradbury, I would like to take this opportunity to thank them once again for all their support and hard work to secure such fantastic speakers and sponsors without whom the conference would not have been such a success. Thank you for electing me it has been a truly great honour to have been Chairperson and to have played a part in the Club’s rich history.

I have no doubt that the Conference will continue to go from strength to strength and feedback from delegates has again emphasised just what a fantastic forum the BCBC is. I would like to wish Laurence Loxam every success for his year ahead and have no doubt that the 2020 conference will also be one to remember.

Anya Westland