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Sustainable beef production: Local rancher speaks at the British Society of Animal Science Conference

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Lucky 7 Angus Owner and Rancher Jim Jensen recently traveled to Northern Ireland to present at the 2024 British Society of Animal Science Conference (BSAS) in Belfast, Northern Ireland on April 11.

Foyle Food Group, one of the largest red meat processors in the United Kingdom, with over 1,350 employees in both Northern Ireland, England and the Republic of Ireland, invited Jensen to speak at the 2024 BSAS Conference. 

During the BSAS conference, Foyle Food Group sponsored a learning break-out session focusing on sustainable beef production through the application of science where Jensen shared his knowledge on feed efficient genetics.

Jensen shared how he has been focusing on improving feed efficiency since 1990, and over the years, he developed a feed efficiency system to assess feed intake against liveweight gain of young bulls. 

“In 2010, we started utilizing GrowSafe feed bins, and as trials were conducted, it showed our bulls consume 38.6 percent less than that of competitors while heifers can maintain body weight with 54 percent less feed than industry standards,” Jensen added.

A GrowSafe system is a feed intake recording system which allows continuous data acquisition by using the animal identification tag which is read multiple times per second when an animal is feeding at the trough.

“Continuous data recording enables advanced behavioral analysis,” Jensen stated.

BSAS conference

The BSAS annual conference celebrated the society’s 80th anniversary and debated scientific facts, the role livestock plays in ecosystems and the economy.

As global pressure mounts on environmental outcomes, the BSAS conference aimed its conversations on how water and air quality and biodiversity pressures can be alleviated by establishing the role of livestock in the future.

The conference included educational sessions on advances in breeding and genetics to support sustainable livestock systems, reducing the environmental impact of livestock systems and adapting science to foster positive change.

“Without livestock as a food source we face starvation,” Jensen pointed out. “Cattle are not an environmental problem but the solution.”

He continued, “Improving feed efficiency helps change the narrative around greenhouse gas emissions from the beef industry.”

Longevity of breeding cattle and feed efficiency were two traits Jensen placed an emphasis on, further discussing how feed efficiency is not necessarily correlated to frame size.

“It’s always a common misconception feed efficiency is related to the size of a cow, but this is not right,” he shared. 

Local tours

Prior to speaking at the BSAS conference, Foyle Food Group invited Jensen and his wife Jamie to tour several top-pedigree Angus herds in Scotland and England, as part of the organization’s “Farms of Excellence” farm walk on April 10.

Part of the tour included spending time at the Netherton Farm and HW Angus operation and the Aln Angus operation in Alnwick, Northumberland. 

While visiting the Foyle Food Omagh site, the Jensens discussed sustainability challenges and how to use innovation to improve beef performance with agricultural and continuous improvement managers from the organization.

“We also presented to a number of beef industry representatives, including members of the Northern Ireland Aberdeen Angus Breeders Club, Aberdeen Angus Quality Beef and agricultural representatives from local banks, as well as Foyle suppliers at an event held at the Foyle Farms of Excellence,” Jensen stated. “While visiting the Foyle farm, we spoke to several agricultural stakeholders in Northern Ireland about beef farming, sustainability and the environment.”

The Jensens also had the opportunity to preview research being conducted in the beef sector in Northern Ireland.

Following the BSAS convention, Agri-Food Bioscience Institute held an event with representatives from AgriSearch, Ulster Farmers’ Union, the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise and Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers’ Association who met with the Jensens and discussed opportunities and challenges facing the beef industry today.

Included in this gathering of beef industry leaders was Senior Quantitative Geneticist from Vytelle Dinesh Thekkoot.

In July 2020, Vytelle and GrowSafe Systems, Ltd. combined organizations to accelerate genetic advances in bovine biotechnology.

Thekkoot outlined the capabilities of the data capturing technology from Vytelle, including feed and water intake as well as in-pen weight gain measurements. 

“These have been widely adopted in U.S. feedlots and ranches to identify high-performing and feed-efficient individuals,” Thekkoot said.

The couple also spent time engaging with Irish Aberdeen Angus breeders and Angus Beef Ireland while touring Ireland. 

To conclude the Jensens’ visit, they spent time with local Farmer Paul Turley in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland and toured the Gigginstown House Angus facility before returning back to Wyoming.

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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