Doreen Forsyth catches up with Adam Buitelaar on health and welfare. This article is published by British Dairying

The Buitelaar Group was established in 1922 in the Netherlands, and focus on producing British beef to the highest health and welfare protocols.  These protocols are observed at every stage of production from rearing dairy bull calves to finishing young beef cattle, so it comes as no surprise that the Group is sponsoring this year’s Health and Welfare Awards.

Adam Buitelaar is the fifth generation of the family to be involved in the industry.  He has been fortunate to work in four different countries in both the meat and livestock sectors, which has given him both a diverse knowledge and vast experience of the total supply chain.

In 2009 Adam identified an issue that there were many dairy male calves being put down, due to the lack of markets and inefficient farming methods.

.Adam felt that this was damaging the local community, was also a really worrying welfare issue, and where was social responsibility in the face of global food shortages?

“Apart from being an animal welfare disgrace, this seemed to be such a waste, so we devised a sustainable model to produce with great consistency and eating quality from these calves. So, we decided to “dip our toes” into the water by fattening and selling the meat of 35 young male calves per week and this side of the business has grown rapidly” says Adam.

The Buitelaar Group now have an integrated supply chain which allows the  product to be monitored at every stage and are now processing 40,000 head of beef and dairy calves per annum through five collection centres.

His products boast excellent traceability, are 100% British and are all Red Tractor Farm Assured.

Adam’s belief in the product has paid off as,  in a recent competition organised by EBLEX to find “England’s Best Sirloin Steak”, a blind taste test revealed that a Buitelaar steak produced from a dairy bull, scored top marks across the board, including taste, tenderness, marbling and juiciness, as well as a chemical analysis of the product. The Buitelaar entry was in direct competition against traditional breeds such as Aberdeen Angus and Hereford. The Team won the Supply Chain Initiative at Meat and Poultry Processing award this year, and “swept the board” at the 2017 Food Management Awards.

And, all this from a product that was until recently only considered worthy of animal food or cheap burgers! Top chefs and restaurant critics are beginning to see the quality and value of dairy beef. Giles Coren, The Times restaurant critic recently described a dairy beef steak as “a steak the way I always wanted steak to be without ever having been able to put my finger on what I wanted.”

Buitelaar now has five calf collection centres throughout the UK where dairy farmers can market their calves each week. A profile is built up on each calf supplier and this ensures that our future fattener has a uniformity of supply and a higher health status.

The Royal Agricultural University at Cirencester is currently engaged in a research project with Buitelaar and Synergy Farm Health, with the first batch of 50 healthy calves being reared with zero mortality rates. New research proposals including reducing the use of antibiotics, a current demand by the meat industry.

Adam firmly believes that everyone in the supply chain must have a margin, and that this can be achieved through efficiencies throughout the supply chain and of the curving volatility of the finished beef market.

Our unique supply chain concept guarantees our suppliers and customers continuous sustainable growth” Adam explains.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting the finalists in the Health and Welfare Category at the Cream Awards.”