18 JANUARY 2019
ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham has urged beef farmers to cease the practice of rearing New Zealand influenced dairy bred calves. “Taking on calves from Jersey and Kiwi cross herds make no financial sense whatsoever. It is a futile practice that will never turn a profit for a beef farmer,” he said.
Mr Graham was responding to recent comments from Pearse Kelly of Teagasc who said a dairy farmer would need to pay a beef farmer €140 on top of a Jersey-cross calf to finish him as a 24 month steer at current beef prices.
“The figures just don’t add up. Indeed, I would argue the Teagasc figure is on the low side and a beef man would need a lot more than the €140 suggested. It’s time to face economic reality with this one and stop taking on these calves once and for all. Farmers need to be very cautious too to avoid beef cross Jersey influenced calves.”
Continuing Mr Graham said, “Dairy in this country has been moving more and more towards a New Zealand model, but the difference between Ireland and New Zealand is that New Zealand doesn’t have a beef industry. Yet here in Ireland beef farmers are almost expected to take on the influx of unwanted dairy calves. Unfortunately, it is a road we can no longer afford to go down and the responsibility ultimately lies with the sector that bred them.”
Mr Graham added that farmers also needed to wake up to the dangers of trying to make profit from rearing Holstein bull beef. “I am inundated with calls from farmers who are being turned away from factories with O grade bull beef. In the last week, I estimate I have had calls from farmers who have some 2,000 head of Holstein bull beef who cannot find a factory to take them. Teagasc figures do not account for the risk of being caught with bulls going over age and nobody to buy them.”