26 July 2002

Hereford scheme offers guaranteed calf market

Both beef and dairy

margins can be improved

by using native breeds in

dairy herds to sire calves

for the beef industry.

Jonathan Long went to an

open day to find out how

FOLLOWING Meadow Qualitys guidelines could soon allow producers to guarantee a market for their calves while receiving a predetermined price.

This would stabilise returns to dairy herds, while producing quality calves for the beef sector, Clive Brown, project development manager for Meadow Quality, told visitors to Stan and Bill Quanns 120-cow Border herd of pedigree Herefords.

"We are developing towards the stage where we can offer dairy farmers a guaranteed price for calves before they are born, so long as they are sired by an approved Hereford bull."

The Hereford Beef Scheme is developing a complete supply chain from the dairy producer through to the retailer. For producers, it ensured a secure market for calves at a premium price, said Kate Sutton, business development officer for Meadow Quality.

With Dovecote Park offering a near guaranteed price for the finished animal, Meadow Quality were looking to provide stability right down the chain, including fixed prices for both calves and store cattle, said Mr Brown.

"By developing this system, producers at every level of the supply chain can budget more effectively. This should ensure everyone makes a return," he said.

But this will only be possible if producers play their part and select bulls to Meadow Quality criteria. "Bulls should be in the top 10% of the breed and preferably have a BLUP estimated breeding value of 28 or better, with a muscle score of at least 0.6. While many producers may prefer to buy a stock bull, there are also a number of leading sires available for AI use," he said.

MLC beef scientist Duncan Pullar said dairy managers must stop regarding calves as a by-product. "To increase income from calves they must be bred and reared to market requirements." &#42

&#8226 Hereford sired calves.

&#8226 Approved bulls.

&#8226 Guaranteed price.

Visitors to the Meadow Quality open day in Herefordshire had the chance to see Stan and Bill Quanns Border herd of pedigree Hereford cattle. These 22- to 23-month-old heifers will start calving at the end of August.