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Stackyard News Jan 07

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Hard pressed dairy farmers can cash in on beef sector

Cash starved dairy farmers can create a second leg to their businesses if they take account of money that can be earned from a more beef orientated approach when they review their financial position for 2007.

Black and White cross Blonde cattle

black and white cross Blonde cattle

So says the National Beef Association which is aware that more dairymen are already showing increased interest in selling purebred bull calves now that domestic rearer/finishers are paying £45-£70 a head for suitable Black and Whites and regular export sales are also fuelling the market.

“On top of this are the obvious benefits of selling better fleshed, less stressed, cows onto the manufacturing beef market where even during the peak, pre-Christmas culling period, stronger dairy rejects were making 60p per live kilo or around 130-135p deadweight,” explained NBA chairman, Duff Burrell.

According to the NBA the removal of OTM rule in late 2005 has already made the UK over 70 per cent self sufficient in fresh beef terms over 2006, compared with just over 60 per cent in 2005, and the figure could rise this year if the supply contribution from the dairy sector continues to increase.

“More dairy beef is a welcome addition to UK structures because it reduces reliance on discounted imports from South America and the Republic of Ireland and at the same time helps to maintain vital auction and processing centres,” said Mr Burrell.

“At one stage it is estimated that perhaps 300,000 dairy bull calves a year were being killed at birth but since live exports opened a new base has been put in the market and current estimates are that by the beginning of March the net gain to the UK industry will be 150,000 finished Black and White bulls because more new calves will have been reared than exported.”

“The NBA is hoping that this extra income will persuade those farmers who are still shooting Black and White males calves to take advantage of these higher prices and for others who appreciate the benefits of a regular, non-milk, income to begin to use more beef AI and produce more cross-bred calves - which are currently averaging over £130 a head if they are Continental crosses.”

“The additional income from well presented cull cows cannot be ignored either. Useful money, that can help to offset the damage caused by an even bigger cost/income deficit than the one facing the beef industry, can be produced if more dairy farmers make sure that the 15-25 per cent of cows that will benefit from further feeding are made available to finishers.”

“And if more cows are culled out a little earlier, or treated for lameness instead of being shoveled through the FSS, then dairy farmers will once again discover that re-connection with the beef sector can produce the somewhere round the same level of additional income as it did before the export ban in March 1996,” Mr Burrell added.

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