In Belgium, almost all beef cattle are fattened indoor during about 10 – 12 months on the basis of maize, soybean meal and other cereals. This technique is very expensive. However, it is adapted to the dominant beef breed: the Belgian Blue. This breed requires systematic caesareans at calving, is very susceptible to health problems, requires a lot of medicine and has been bred for being fed by a dominance of concentrate in the diet. This implies high production costs. In the past, Belgian Blue meat price was significantly higher than other meat types, but recently the prices of good pieces of meat decreased a lot and the whole profitability of the system felt down.
It is possible to reduce these costs by raising new breeds, for instance the Aberdeen Angus, that are less demanding, less susceptible and are more able to transform grass into meat with low or no -additional concentrate use. This reduces dramatically costs while meat is sold at a higher price, especially if it is sold in short and local marketing chains. This breed can also overwinter outdoors, for instance in overwintering pads, on wood chips.
These elements are totally new and innovative for Belgian livestock breeders. They were explained to and discussed with students from agricultural schools and farmers. These ideas raised a lot of discussion and interest. These techniques have indeed the potential to simplify work, reduce production costs and increase income.
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