Vasco Beheregaray from ABS - the world’s biggest cattle genetics company, owned by the British-based Genus group - said cattle numbers in Brazil now totalled 185 million.
This was 16% of world cattle numbers and 20% of the world beef trade. Exports from Brazil in 2003 were worth US$3.6bn.
Where once the native Zebu animal was predominant, some 40% of the five million beef inseminations taking place each year are now with European breeds. Aberdeen Angus is by far the most popular. Reproductive synchronisation programmes on large-scale feedlot units were becoming more sophisticated and prevalent, allowing for an even greater use of the world’s best genetics that would hasten the rapid improvement in beef product quality.
The MLC’s director general Kevin Roberts called for the UK’s beef producers to embrace better breeding to improve the quality of British beef and to help lower production costs.
His call followed news that scientists had developed new gene technology which could enable farmers to identify from a sample of tail hair which of their bulls will sire the finest quality calves. The National Beef Association has joined forces with the Roslin Institute in Scotland to develop the technique, which would produce calves with tender beef and more marbling.