© Tim Scrivener

Buitelaar is looking for farmers to help expand its network of beef suppliers.

The company, which procures dairy bull and beef calves and finishes them through its dedicated supply chain of farmers, says it hopes to grow the number of cattle they finish from 1,300 to 2,000 a week by August 2019.

To meet this demand, managing director Adam Buitelaar, says they are looking to take on a further 60 finishing units and eight rearing units.

See also: Video: Step-by-step guide to disbudding calves

They will be offering farmers five to 10-year contracts and beef finishers will be provided with finance to help build sheds.

However, the number of dairy farms supplying calves into their collection centres will be consolidated as part of a move to improve the supply of calves entering the chain, Mr Buitelaar told farmers at an open day at their Wrexham collection centre Wednesday (28 March).

Improving calf supply

A Dairy Excellence team was initially set up to help dairy farmers supplying calves into Buitelaar to improve calf management.

It has been a resounding success, with 40% fewer rejections from these farms.

However, as part of the expansion, the team is being rebranded Buitelaar Technical Team with more staff being added to increase its remit to cover the whole supply chain.

This team will also be assessing the suitability of the recruits.

Consolidating the dairy supply chain

Buitelaar has been using a tracing system to track how calves have performed and are using this information to rank each of its farmers.

Supported by the technical team, the information is being supplied back to dairy farms to help them improve early life calf management. To date, Mr Buitelaar said feedback had been well received by all farms.

“We have not stopped working with one single farm or had farms stop working with us.”

In the future however, Mr Buitelaar said he wanted to consolidate its dairy supply to further improve the quality of calves being sourced direct.

“Rather than work with 1,000 dairies and take a few calves from each we would rather work more closely with 500.

“If we can have better-quality calves Buitelaar can pay more for them because they do better in our system.”

Benefits of a more integrated supply chain

Making the dairy and beef supply chain more integrated like the poultry and pig industries, will ensure all farmers have a good return, he added.

“Historically, the dairy and beef industries have been very disjointed but the more money a beef farmer earns then better price dairy farmers receive.

“We don’t know what is going to happen with Brexit but we know we need to make farming more sustainable. Milk prices are volatile too, so we have to think about how we can add value to the farm and we have to make sure everyone can earn money out of the chain.”

How to apply

If you would like to become a rearing or finishing farm or require any additional information email info@buit.ie.

In numbers

  • 60,000 Number of calves procured last year
  • 5 Number of Buitelaar calf collection centres in England and Wales
  • 32 Number of rearing units
  • 386 Number of beef finishers

How it works

Calves are bought from dairy farms, collected and taken to collection centres. Dairy farmers receive a price per head based on weight, age and breed.

Calves then get placed on rearing units until four months of age, when they will be moved to finisher units. Buitelaar underwrites the value of the calf so finishers are able to work out how much profit can be made per head.

Buitelaar supplies the milk powder and helps group buy feed with all veterinary work carried out by Synergy Vets (at the farmer’s expense).

Farms suited to becoming a Buitelaar farm

  • A dairy, suckler or sheep farm looking to diversify
  • A son or daughter is returning home and extra income is needed
  • New buildings are not essential – adaptations can be made
  • Having other stock on the farm is not a problem, but calves will need to be housed separately
  • Farmers must have good stockmanship and be willing to take on advice and learn new things