7 June 1996

Ear-tags vital for BSEcash

BEEF producers buying Holstein Friesian bull calves to finish can only break even if they pay under £25 a head.

Dr Basil Lowman from the Scottish Agricultural College is urging producers to consider the situation and do their sums.

With a barley beef mix valued at £150/t and a black-and-white finished bull predicted to fetch no more than 80p/kg lw, producers cannot afford to pay any more for calves if they want to make money from the system.

Dr Lowman suggests dairy producers kill calves at birth and claim the £50 payment from the calf slaughter scheme.

"Farmers naturally dislike the idea of killing a calf they have bred. But at the end of the day in cold financial terms agriculture is a business."

However, the breeds lack of performance – as compared with beef breeds – means producers need to market Holstein Friesian bull calves at 380kg lw. Any heavier and they lose money on a daily basis when feed costs and growth in terms of p/kg daily liveweight gain are analysed.