Meet the Team: Ursula Taylor
This week is Great British Beef Week hosted by Ladies in Beef. To mark it, we’re celebrating our own Ladies in Beef, starting with Ursula Taylor
What is your role at Stabiliser Cattle Company?
I’m the Sales Manager here at Stabiliser Cattle Company. My main duties are marketing and selling the Stabiliser breed. This involves working closely with our multipliers, talking to existing customers, and trying to develop new leads and customers. As a result, it is a varied role travelling around the countryside.
How long have you worked there?
I’ve worked for Stabiliser Cattle Company since 2008, after a background in farming and the meat industry. I was the first full time employee. As a business, the core of what we do hasn’t changed over that time – we’re still a cattle breeding company with an emphasis on data as the most important element in getting the breed correct, both technically and more importantly phenotypically. The biggest change has been the staffing. We now employ five people full time and two part time, enabling the business to grow over the past few years.
What is the best part of your job?
I enjoy working with all the breeders we work with and building great relationships with them. I love talking to people, problem solving and helping them build their herd up. It’s all about communication.
What do you love about Stabiliser cattle?
All the attributes of Stabiliser cattle make them what they are and do what they do. That’s what I like about them. I couldn’t sell anything I didn’t believe in, but we have all the data backing up the performance of the cattle. That is why I believe in it and the people we work alongside believe in it – it works for them on their farms.
How long have you worked in the agricultural industry?
I started working on farms in 1979 after I had left school, and then progressed into working in the meat processing industry and then at the Stabiliser Cattle Company, so I’ve worked in the industry for more than 40 years.
What is it like being a woman in the agricultural industry?
In the early years, it was total sex discrimination. In 1979 you could barely get a job if you were a woman, farmers just said they didn’t employ women as they weren’t strong enough. When I did get a job, I felt I had to work twice as hard as the men to prove them wrong, which I did.
Back in those days, it was a lot more physical. There was a lot of manual work to be done. On the first farm I worked on there was no forklift so all the fertiliser had to be unloaded and loaded into the spreader by hand. It was hard work and I can understand why some farmers said it was not for women.
When I worked in an abattoir, things were even worse. That was an entirely male-dominated environment.
Things have slowly changed over the years but would I say we were equal now? Not entirely. Things have improved a lot but we’re not quite there yet.
Are there enough opportunities for women wanting to get into the agricultural industry?
There are now more opportunities for women now in areas like Agri sales and other, associated roles. As an industry, it is much easier to get into compared to when I started in the late 1970s, and that’s a good thing.
What do you think the future of the beef industry in the UK holds?
There has been a beef industry in the UK and there will continue to be one, but it is likely to be in less hands and those who make it work will be the ones who concentrate on producing what the market wants efficiently and profitably, rather than on what they have traditionally done. Therefore Stabilisers have been selected for the traits they have, to produce an animal that fulfils that role.
In the short term, there are some major challenges due to the sky rocketing price of farm inputs. Beef prices are good but are they enough to balance out the extra cost? Probably not as all the extra costs have come suddenly and over a short period of time. Hopefully, when the world settles down a bit, things will get back to some sense of normality.
What makes British beef great?
The rules and regulations that we adhere to in the UK are stricter than most countries which is ensuring the safety and quality of the beef.
To British farmers, animals are more than just commodities. Our farmers generally take great care of their animals and that’s something as a nation we should be proud of and support by buying British.
It’s great to see also that we are starting to make more of an emphasis on eating quality and this needs to continue to make British Beef Great and the Stabiliser fits perfectly into this role.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that most people wouldn’t know.
Because of my early experiences in the industry, the discrimination I faced working on farms and particularly in the meat processing industry, I had to toughen up and do it quickly. As a result, I tend to always tell people the truth, even if it is not what they want to hear, and have acquired a bit of a reputation for being straight talking and tough but this has actually gained me a lot of respect within the industry.
So, people in the industry might be surprised to learn that I’m actually a big softie! I’m the mother to two wonderful dogs, I love cooking, gardening, baking, entertaining, and feeding people. My cakes and Mince pies at Christmas are always popular. I’m a people person as well as a cattle person and working at the Stabiliser Cattle Company gives me the best of both worlds.
We are trying to produce beef that meets market specification and make the most profit possible. Using Stabilisers we are achieving our objectives, we have a low cost, low labour cow and good quality finishing cattle that meet the needs of the market.- Mel and Pete Momber, Hampshire
I’m excited by the prospects the Stabiliser can deliver for us. The proof was there based on scientific research, backed up by a large gene pool and precise management systems. It seemed the perfect breed for our farming system.- Will Evans, Machynlleth
On weaning in May at 10 mths old the Stabiliser calves were on par with the Blue and Angus calves. These were turned out to grass until early September then housed. This is when I was surprised by the differences between the breeds, the Angus averaged 480kg, the Blues 490kg but the Stabilisers were 530kg.- Robin Talbot, Laois – Ireland
In 2011 we bought 46 Stabiliser heifers plus 3 bulls and sold our 3 Belgium Blue bulls. The results were clear to see, by the time we pregnancy tested our 100 cows later that year. We went from historically having 15% barren cows to only 3% barren in a 9 week mating period.- Jeremy Iles, Gloucester
I have found Stabiliser cows to be very forage efficient. Their ability to put weight on in the summer months means I can save on winter feed costs. This has allowed me to keep more cows on the same resources.- Jono Cole, Cornwall
We have an easy-care system that is as profitable as any other beef enterprise. We benchmark our herd against the AHDB industry figure and we sit comfortably ahead of the top third performers. I believe we are now producing a carcass with the conformation and eating quality consistency that the market wants.- Dan Burling, Cambridgeshire
Docility, feed efficiency tested, easy calving, hybrid vigour, fertility, growth AND carcass traits from highly maternal cattle, what’s not like?- Robin Norrie, Fife
We aim to get most out of grass as possible. The hardy nature of the cattle seems to suit this system very well. Hardly any assistance is required during calving, combined with the excellent calf vigour produce healthy and strong calves which further reduces labour costs.- Llion and Sian Jones, Conwy
We’re over 10 years into our Stabiliser journey, we’re reaping the rewards. Moving to the Stabiliser has been a game changer for efficiency and job satisfaction, allowing us to increase cow numbers on the same area and finishing bulls averaging over 380kgs at 13 months. Our only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner!- Peter and Jackie Storrow, Pembrokeshire
Stabiliser cattle are a specialised suckler beef breed with the added bonus of hybrid vigour. The cattle are multi-trait performance recorded to produce EBV’s, this has a huge positive economical effect on our business. All of this is crucial for us to have a financially improving suckler herd on the farm.- Harri Parri, Llyn Peninsula
We chose the Stabiliser breed for their docility and easy calving traits, but with the added benefit of turning grass into meat. We soon saw all of these traits were true. Our first home bred steers were finished off grass at an average age of 19 months.- Dyfed Roberts, Anglesey
Despite our rainfall, we outwinter our cows on kale, the stabiliser cow will lay down excess fat, and successfully rear her calf. During the winter considerable cost savings are made. By changing to Stabiliser cattle I keep approximately 50% more cows as they only weigh 650Kgs, which meant more beef being produced.- Matthew Cooke, North Devon
We started using Stabiliser bulls 20 years ago. The fertility of the breed has enabled us to calve our own heifers at 24 months and reduce our calving period to nine weeks. This together with their good temperament has encouraged us to increase cow numbers. Consequently, the farm is now producing a lot more kilos of beef.- Edward and Ellis Griffith, Pwllheli
Minimal labour is required at calving time, with easy calving cows and calves up and suckling in no time at all. This gave us the ability to increase our cow numbers with no extra labour. The growth rate of Stabiliser cattle is exceptional, producing high weaning weights whilst converting feed efficiently.- John and Ianto Pari, Gwynedd
We started using stabiliser genetics in 2016, we have not looked back since, they exceeded all our expectations. Changing to stabilisers has enabled us to calve heifers at 2years old with no problems, cows wean a higher percentage of their body weight, we have increased cow numbers without any need for extra labour.- Carys Jones, Camarthenshire