< Avoiding Carbon Tunnel Vision
Arron Nerbas, Angus breeder speaking on beef day
Ben Nottage of Lely Atlantic speaking on dairy day

Sustainable breeding is about more than net zero – profitability, welfare and consumer perception all need to be considered too. Our expert speakers will discuss the importance of avoiding tunnel vision in our second conference session in January

The role of genetics in producing a resilient, forage efficient beef animal is the focus of Arron Nerbas’s presentation. Arron runs an intergenerational ranch business, Nerbas Bros Angus, in Manitoba, Canada. The forage only operation has 550 cows and has been applying regenerative principles for nearly 20 years. As well as discussing their genetic process, Arron will share how their regenerative approach has benefited the land, soil, ecosystem and economic business model.

Prof Geoff Simm, Director of the Global Academy of Agriculture & Food Systems at the University of Edinburgh, will address the question: Where does beef fit into feeding the world? He will explore changes to production systems and technical opportunities that may help producers address growing pressures that challenge traditional approaches.

In the final presentation of the beef session, Terence Pye will bring a farmer’s perspective. He will share how his breeding programme resulted in dramatic improvements in calving ease and directly enhanced herd performance, profitability, sustainability and welfare of animals in his suckler herd. Together with his wife and daughter, Terence runs a herd of 70 pedigree Salers cows plus followers on their 95ha farm in North Yorkshire. Under their Rigel prefix they sell breeding stock, with customers across the UK and Europe, and have exported semen to Canada.

Lely Atlantic’s Ben Nottage will open the dairy session with a deep dive into farm automation, explaining how it can change on-farm processes and how we interact with livestock. Ben will explore traits, including milking speed, which are helping to improve efficiency and how farmers can take advantage of them. Ben joined Lely in 2022 following roles with Genus and Worldwide Sires which saw him travel globally whilst experiencing many different dairy systems. His role as Dairy XL Account Manager for Lely Atlantic involves supporting larger units with eight Astronaut milking robots or those feeding 500 cows or more with the Lely Vector system across the UK and Ireland.

Farmers Weekly’s Dairy Farmer of the Year, Catherine Pickford, and her herd manager Nathan Crocker will discuss how they work together to build sustainability for the next generation. Catherine has been farming since 1995 on a farm business tenancy and has grown the herd from 80 Holsteins to 400 New Zealand Friesian cross Jerseys. She has a passion for nurturing young talent and is helping Nathan to build equity in the business by buying cows in the herd.

Prof Rainer Roehe of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) will round off the dairy sessions with an exploration of climate smart efficient cattle through microbiome-driven breeding. “The rumen microbiome is a fascinating symbiotic ecosystem comprising of bacteria, protozoa and fungi which convert fibrous plant material into absorbable nutrients to produce meat and milk,” he explains. Methane is an unnecessary by-product of the process, but as he will explain, SRUC’s Beef Research Centre has demonstrated that microbiome-driven breeding can potentially mitigate methane emissions and improve efficiency by up to 17% and 15% per generation.

See the complete programme for this year’s conference and book tickets here.

BCBC would like to thank AHDB and the Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society for sponsoring speaker Arron Nerbas to attend the conference.