Digest 76


BCBC Conference Chair 2021 - Clive Brown

Our Breeding Goals - Learn from the past to focus on the future

After a day focussed on a computer screen and praying that technology behaved itself, I am able to reflect on a programme packed with a mixture of world class scientists, producers and practical cattle breeding discussion. The 2021 British Cattle Breeders Conference was a significant milestone for the club as we delivered our first ever online conference and brought my year of Chairmanship to an end. I’d like to thank the BCBC Committee for electing me and for their support; it has been a truly great honour to have been Chairman and to have played a part in the Club’s rich history. 

Whatever direction the committee decide to go in for 2022 I have no doubt that the Conference will continue to go from strength to strength in both content and profile. Feedback from delegates for the online version has again emphasised just what a fantastic forum the BCBC is to highlight and discuss not just new science and innovation but also practical technologies and opportunities.

The theme of the 2021 conference was all about learning from the past but very much focussing on the future and ensuring that as an industry our breeding goals enable us to meet the challenges and opportunities that are coming our way in the cattle sectors. We have seen over many years how cattle breeding has greatly benefitted from the appliance of science, new technologies, and innovation. In this ‘new era’ I have no doubt that science and innovation will never have been more important for farmers, both now and for generations to come. New thinking, and strengthening the ability to innovate, will provide the advances and improvements that will increase efficiencies and produce populations of animals that can respond to the demands of a changing market place. By the nature of cattle breeding new science adopted today may take years to deliver its full reward, so we have to ask ourselves what science, new technology and innovation can also add value to beef and dairy production in the short and medium term? Also, how do we engage young people, encourage their passion for agriculture and secure their future?

The fact that the conference was online meant that we were able to involve a greater number of international contributors and so assemble a line-up of world class speakers from research, industry and farming who were truly inspirational for all that attended. By taking an overview of the sectors and then covering subjects from practical breeding approaches, genomic developments and the likely environmental challenges, I hope there was something for everybody and by encouraging more colleges to engage with the conference we were also inspiring the next generation to get involved in our fantastic industry.

Finally, can I thank all of our sponsors for their support, which enabled us to continue to deliver a conference, and also those people who have supported me as we faced an ever-changing world. The committee, particularly my vice chair Karen Wonnacott, plus Andy Dodd for the numerous Zoom calls, but most of all the ever-efficient Heidi Bradbury, our company secretary, who would admit to being on a steep learning curve but managed to pull everything together as always with invaluable help from ESW.

The British Cattle Breeders Club has a proud history and after proving it can rise to modern day challenges, even if they were a little unexpected, I am sure it has a bright future and so I wish Karen and Amy all the best in planning the 2022 conference. I look forward to seeing you there!

Clive Brown