IMPROVING THE quality of spring-born calves destined for the beef market by just one grade can earn dairy producers an extra £40 a head, says Meadow Quality Calves’ Vicky Fletcher.

“At this time of year, calf quality often deteriorates because stock have been indoors for long periods and disease levels have built up in calving boxes and rearing pens.”

“But Continental-cross calves are currently making good money and it wouldn’t cost much to push a 2-3 week old calf up from plain A quality to the better Q grade, making it worth more.”

To achieve this premium, Miss Fletcher advises ensuring adequate colostrum intakes and setting up feeding systems to promote ad-lib intakes to deliver stronger, healthier calves.

“Cleaning out calving pens and calf accommodation frequently will improve hygiene and reduce the impact of bugs, which can also limit calf performance,” she adds.