7 August 1998

Beef calves boom

THE number of dairy cows put to beef bulls and AI for next years calf crop is expected to rise from below 30% to over 40% following the announcement that the Calf Processing Aid Scheme stops on Nov 30.

So says beef consultant David Allen, who suggests the decline in dairy cow numbers and fewer cows forwarded for the selective cull is reducing the need for pure-bred heifers, increasing beef by 200,000 head.

The end of the CPAS will force calf prices down further, he adds, which could help sustain margins if finished beef prices hold firm.

"If a black and white bull calf is valued at £40, fed on a barley beef system and expected to make a margin of £120/head, sale price would need to be 95p/kg deadweight without BSP, or 72p/kg with it," he says.

Bull calves, particularly Continental crosses, will top the market at about £50/head because the BSP is worth £105/head, he says. MLC sources suggest black and white heifer prices may be as low as £10/head, although Dr Allen believes it will be about £30/head.