Well prepared Holstein bull calves moving off dairy farms are
a sound buy for specialist rearers and finishers in the UK at a
time when movements in the prime cattle price are rising but retailers
that have pledged their support for the domestic production of
these black and white calves must substantial increase the dwkg
price offered to make this new supply chain viable.
So says the National Beef Association which has noted a scarcity
driven, across-the-board, lift in all slaughter cattle prices
at the same time as blockages to the export of live calves to
Continental veal units are holding up more Holstein bull calves
for the domestic market.
“Significant cost increases for milk, feed, fuel, labour
and buildings means that calf rearers/finishers would have to
receive a price that leaves them with a profit for O and P grade
animals slaughtered at 14 months of age to make it worth their
while,” explained NBA director, Kim Haywood.
There is a lot of enthusiasm to get this new supply chain up
and running but dairy farmers locked into milk contracts that
don’t allow the sale of calves to the export market have
discovered very few rearers will take their calves because the
costs far out weigh the returns offered by the retailers involved
in the beyond calf exports project.
The dairy beef sector is already aware that there will be a much
larger proportion of Black and White bull calves on offer because
of the huge swing to use semen from dairy breeds.
According to the NBA there could not be a better time for dairy
farmers to seek out more regular links with domestic dairy beef
specialists but rearers will not purchase calves if they have
to sell them for a price below the cost of production.
“Turning out a calf is a much better proposition for the
dairy farmer than shooting such a calf at birth but the price
offered must be enough to warrant the keeping and caring for
all the calves, not just the better quality ones, if they are
to move to a specialist rearing unit.”
“And because dairy beef accounts for 55 per cent of all
slaughter cattle, and from summer 2009 the dairy beef market
will be dominated by pure-bred bulls instead of a mix of cross
bred steers and heifers, it is important for processors to actively
encourage their production otherwise they face a significant
contraction in domestic supply.”
“The most obvious, and effective, way to do this is to
encourage the production of more Holstein carcases that can be
sold for a profit because the present price being offered is
not enough. If rearers and finishers feel confident about such
encouragement they will begin finishing more Holstein bulls which
from June 2009 will be an increasingly important source of domestic
beef supply,” Ms Haywood added.
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