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Supermarket Morrisons is hoping to cut costs from its meat supply chain by offering dairy farmers specially selected stud bulls to sire calves.
The company will pay farmers a premium for calves sired by the bulls, which have been selected based on their genetics and are owned by Cogent Breeding. The supermarket will also get a better quality, more predictable supply.
A spokesman said: “If you mate those bulls with dairy cows, we think they will provide the best returns. We win because we get more consistent meat and the farmer wins because they get a premium out of it.”
The bulls have been selected from the Beef Shorthorn, Limousin and Stabiliser breeds, and Morrisons will offer a premium of £20 to £30 on top of the market value of the calves.
A pilot project is taking place covering 400 farmers in the South West, but if successful the scheme, run in partnership with dairy firm Arla Foods, will be rolled out across the UK next year.
Andrew Loftus, agriculture manager at Morrisons, said: “Morrisons is committed to investing in the British beef industry. We want to help farmers develop more efficient systems, which produce more beef with fewer resources without impacting on quality. This ‘Selected Sire Scheme’ can make a real difference, ensuring the most appropriate bulls are chosen to produce beef calves, leading to a better deal for farmers, retailers and consumers.”
Meanwhile, in Scotland Morrisons is helping lamb producers become more efficient by feeding back weight and grade data on individual carcasses using electronic ear tags.