Stability and Security for Dairy Farmers

The rapidly growing success of our fully integrated beef supply chain programme means we are looking for more dairy farmers and beef rearers and finishers to get in on the game.

The Gamechanger programme, set up in 2019 by ABP Food Group in partnership with Sainsbury’s and Blade Farming, is going from strength to strength with 531 farmers already involved.

Crossing the best in Aberdeen Angus genetics with dairy cows, Gamechanger produces a consistent, quality beef product with a low carbon hoof print for Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range. With customer demand growing, we need more farmers to get involved, especially with plans afoot to create a separate exclusive consumer-facing brand.

An Upfront Price

Integral to the Gamechanger programme is working with farmers to maximise their outputs with guaranteed forward pricing, or in the case of finishers, a risk-free management fee, as well as generating a profitable purpose for dairy calves.

Jack Allwood, who milks 800 cows at Huntington Hall Farm, Cheshire, with his father John, was an early adopter of Gamechanger and is now in his third year.

“We were attracted to the programme by the guaranteed price per calf at insemination which allows us to plan and have more security down the line, but with the focus on genetics, we’ve seen other bonuses such as greater herd health and yield.” 

Calves are collected at 10 days, weighing a minimum of 45kg, to move to a rearing unit and are paid for within 7-14 days.

“We’ve found the team at Blade Farming supportive and pragmatic,” adds Jack. “The emphasis is on giving the calves a good start with good colostrum, and Blade know when they collect the calves from us, they are healthy and in good shape. Although the price per calf is less than those sired by British Blues that we had before, we’ve lost fewer calves and they leave the farm quicker, so all in all, it’s more efficient and a more profitable way to do it.” 

Managing Success

Gamechanger dairy herds, which must have Holstein Friesian stature, are inseminated from selected sires sourced through Genus ABS. Many years of research has achieved a match with dairy cows that guarantees easy calving, shorter gestation and produces 8% more meat, all of which produces greater gains for the famers involved. The sires are reviewed every six months to maximise genetic advancements and optimise cost of production.

All-year calving is ideal, but not essential, and the farm must be Red Tractor assured. Sharing milk recording is part of the criteria to allow the team to forward plan supply.

Rearers will have 60-120 calves for the next 84 days, starting on milk before moving to a weaning shed and could have up to five batches a year. Blade Farming covers all input costs, while the farmer provides the labour and shed space. Finishers avoid all risk with a set management fee for the maximum of 531 days they have the calves in their care.

Laura Peyton, Agricultural Manager at ABP, said:
“Working in partnership with our primary producers is key to the programme. As well as giving a platform to plan ahead with forward pricing and management fees, we offer a bonus for certain Key Performance Indicators. It’s all about providing farmers with greater security and stability.” 

Collaborating on Green Goals

A largely forage-based diet and striving to bring cattle to market earlier reduces the GHG and methane emissions involved in producing Gamechanger beef, which is increasingly important for consumers, says Jocelyn Orr, Agriculture Manager at Sainsbury’s:

“Our customers are looking for a consistent, fully traceable, high-quality product with a lower and more transparent environmental carbon hoof print. Embracing the very best in Aberdeen Angus genetics and delivering amazing beef with a lower carbon impact, gives us an opportunity to add value and will keep British beef in consumers’ baskets. ABP is a long-standing supplier and partner and it’s clear to see the success of a fully integrated beef supply chain that works for all, along the supply chain.”