Supply outlook promising First of the fast finishing and relatively cheap dairy bred cattle for the manufacturing beef market are emerging from fattening units contracted by slaughtering industry leader Anglo Beef Processors after the Calf Processing Aid Scheme ended last year. ABP md Richard Cracknell led the campaign for abolition of the subsidised cull, claiming the scheme had outlived its usefulness in absorbing calves shut out of continental markets by the BSE export ban and was instead choking off supply needed by further processors and meat product makers. Contract uptake has been disappointing but there is increasing evidence of many dairy farmers wanting to test the bull beef market without direct dealings with slaughterers. Initial performance of at least some ABP contractors is said to prove Cracknell's concept viable. The poor carcase grades are regarded as almost irrelevant if the fattening cost is low, and this is being achieved by very rapid rates of weight gain. "We've seen them put on nearly six pounds a day," The Grocer was told. This means ABP can hope to buy at prices almost matching the cost of competing imported beef, while pointing out to producers the modest deadweight payment is offset by fattening unit stock turnround perhaps well over twice the speed of rearing and finishing premium cattle. {{MEAT }}