Tuesday 27th January saw the first of our 2015
Live to Dead events, held at our Skellingthorpe site in Lincolnshire.
Live to Dead is a practical and informative cattle classification event
run in association with EBLEX’s Better Returns Programme, which aims to give
producers a better understanding of how to bring cattle to the required specification in
order to improve their returns.
A small group of producers from various schemes joined
several members of the Livestock team for the event, which was hosted by EBLEX’s Steve Powdrill and David Eden. Emphasizing the purpose of these training days, Steve
"We need to improve
communication throughout the supply chain and to connect producers with the end
product. The best way to understand various key factors is to see, smell and
touch and the best way to achieve this is a walk through the chain, such as a live
to dead event. Hitting the target spec, whatever that may be, is rewarding for
Anyone breeding or
finishing commercial livestock isn't merely a livestock producer, but more
importantly, a meat producer."
The day began with Steve giving a short introduction to the principles of
cattle grading and identifying the key areas of a live animal to check when assessing fat coverage and conformation.
The producers were then taken into the lairage, where they
were given the opportunity to handle a select group of Hereford cattle and
with guidance from Steve and David, estimate the final grade and dead-weight of
The group then gathered in the maturation chiller, where
they compared the live assessments they had made to the actual carcass grades.
After breakfast, the morning was concluded with a presentation
from Steve which displayed visual examples of cattle at various grades and the resulting primal cuts. The presentation also examined well known and lesser known cuts of beef and the effect that different cattle weights can have on the final beef products.
Overall, the Live to Dead was a great success, which
provided our producers with an opportunity to practice and improve their
classification skills in an informal and educational setting.
Steven, who farms
Aberdeen Angus cattle in Lincolnshire said of the event, "It was a very good day, and even though I have been to one of these
events before, you learn a lot through the hands on experience on how to get
the cattle right for Dovecote. Anyone who sends cattle to a processor ought to
go to one of these!" Matthew, who farms Hereford cattle in northern Herefordshire had the chance to assess his own cattle at the event and stated, "It’s the second one I have done,
and it is surprising how much you learn doing it again. The more times you do
it, and the more you handle them, the better you get at it."
We would like to thank the producers who joined us at this
event and Steve and David for their time and expertise. . If you are interested in attending a future Live to Dead event, please
contact our livestock office.