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Beef, UK

Beef – Preston Farm, UK

This case study recognises the success of an on–farm breeding programme producing high–quality beef. The benefits of this system include reducing disease risk and prevalence, increasing herd health, producing breeding replacement with good maternal behaviour. This is all undertaken in a manner which protects and enhances the local environment, together these contribute to high standards of ethical, environmental and economic practice.

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Key areas of good practice
Certification / assurance:

The farm is a member of the Quality Meat Scotland farm assurance scheme which is independently audited and certified to ensure high standards of animal welfare and environmental care on the farm.

Animal health:

Accredited HI Health herd for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) achieving disease–free status for a cattle disease associated with costly losses, including increased rates of cow infertility and calf mortality and reduced animal growth rates.

The suckler herd was reduced in size to enable the farm to rear the young stock through to slaughter, in preference to selling them as store cattle. This policy capitalises on the animals' quality genetics and HI Health status, improving aspects such as food conversion ratios (FCR) and daily liveweight gains (DLWG). The farm receives the benefits of this approach through increased profits.

The farm rears their own heifer replacements through a successful on–farm breeding programme. The benefit of this is to be able to select breeding replacements that display the desirable characteristics the farm requires, including good mothering ability, growth, temperament and health. This also greatly reduces the biosecurity risks associated with having to buy in replacement heifers.

Breeding bulls are carefully selected and sourced from accredited HI health herds to ensure equivalent health status. Easy calving traits are considered an extremely important aspect in the procurement of breeding bulls, especially for those animals that will be used on heifers.

Soil health:

The beef enterprise generates both solid manure and slurry, both of which are utilised on the farm to improve the productivity of grass and cereal crops

Climate change:

Preston farm is a member of the McDonald's Sustainable Beef club and as such they have taken part in a four year programme measuring their on farm carbon emissions, through this programme and information gained from the assessments has helped the farm reduce their carbon footprint by 10% over this period.


The farm has an area designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and has 12 hectares of wetland that provide an important habitat for the endangered mud snail Omphiscola Glabra.