BRITAIN’S fourth largest supermarket chain, Morrisons, has announced a raft of initiatives to help improve the efficiency of livestock production and keep beef and lamb prices competitive in its 500 stores.
Morrisons has given a greater commitment to British farming than any of the other “big four” supermarkets by sourcing all fresh beef, lamb, pork, milk, eggs, chicken and vegetables in season from British farmers.
The moves were announced at an open day for suppliers attended by the Prince of Wales at Dumfries House, near Ayr, where Morrisons are tenants of the 1,000-acres home farm.
The farm is run on a commercial basis, with a herd of 180 pedigree Beef Shorthorn cows and a flock of 800 Scotch Mule. The £2 million investment includes a range of applied research projects designed to make UK livestock production more efficient and sustainable.
“We are committed to providing information back to all farmers that will help them to improve their breeding, rearing and feeding programmes,” said agricultural manager Andrew Loftus. “By working together with our farmers, Morrisons can help make British farming more efficient and competitive. We are committed to investing in technology and innovation that will provide real benefit to our farmers.”
Farmers supplying lambs to Morrisons’ abattoir at Turriff, Aberdeenshire, this week became the first in the country to receive details of the yield, weight and grade of each individual lamb consigned to the plant. This has been made possible by the compulsory introduction of electronic ear tags on Scottish lambs to enable individual identification.
It is hoped the information will help farmers achieve genetic improvements in their breeding stock and has been welcomes by Scotland’s red meat promotional body, Quality Meat Scotland.
“For too long the UK sheep industry has been at a disadvantage from not readily being able to identify poorer performing bloodlines,” said QMS livestock breeding specialist Kathy Peebles.
“The ability to manage flocks with individual information from birth to slaughter brings sheep farming into the 21st century. There is no more hiding place for under-performing rams and ewes.”
Morrisons has also launched a scheme with 400 dairy farmers in the south-west of England to encourage the production of better quality beef from the dairy herd. A premium of £20-£30 per calf – on top of market value – is being offered for calves sired by nominated Beef Shorthorn, Limousin and Stabiliser bulls in a scheme which the company hopes to extend to the whole of the UK early next year.