18 OCTOBER 2016
ICSA suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher has said that farmers are in an impossible dilemma with conflicting advice from Teagasc and meat factories. “We recently saw Teagasc advocate a calf to beef system using dairy type calves where the advice was to finish before the second winter, at carcass weights of 280kg. They argued that the price of beef could not justify the cost of keeping these animals for a second winter. Yet Paul Nolan of Dawn Meats pointed out that light carcass (230-320kg) dairy type animals were not what they wanted.
The ICSA man added that the Teagasc figures assumed a beef price of €3.80/kg but farmers need to be aware that dairy type beef often graded O- or worse and therefore the actual price paid would be well below the base price and would not qualify for QAS bonus. “The assumption in this is that Holstein bull calves can be bought at €100 but this is often not achievable.”
“The ironic thing is that the price of the dropped dairy calf is very much influenced by the demand from the Netherlands for live exports of veal calves. ICSA believes that we need to export as many as possible of the dairy calves to the Netherlands in order to avoid a glut coming down the line of dairy beef. We would be very anxious to see a good trade for live export of calves and we are concerned that too many farmers jumping on the bandwagon here to do calf to beef makes these calves too dear for live exports and too dear for home producers to make a profit.”
Mr Kelleher concluded by calling on all other meat factories to be straight about whether they wanted dairy beef, how much of it they needed and at what price. “The last thing we want is farmers thinking this is a viable alternative to sucklers when actually it is based on a lot of assumptions which may well prove very fragile.”