9 July 1999

MLC says three options to deal with end of CPAS

Meat marketing, breed

improvement, organic

farming and the end of the

Calf Processing Aid Scheme

were high on the agenda at

this weeks Royal Show at

Stoneleigh, Warks.

The Livestock team reports

WHEN the Calf Processing Aid Scheme ends – due to cease on July 31 – dairy producers will be left with three options.

MLC beef economic analyst Duncan Sinclair told a show Press conference that producers could choose to sell calves for rearing; consider slaughtering them at two to three weeks old as bobby calves or rear them.

He said for many producers, the favoured option would be to rear calves. "Calves may become very cheap, but before you commit to production, there are key considerations to take into account. "Ensure you have an appropriate outlet before you being production. Budget carefully at realistic prices – they are likely to make poor conformation grades – and ensure you can claim BSP. Also, plan the scale of your operation; have you enough space to take them to finished weights?" said Mr Sinclair.

Besides ensuring adequate building space, good ventilation is vital, he said. "Also, where you are considering rearing bulls, do your facilities meet safety requirements?"

Feed and bedding availability and price should also be researched. "However tempted you are to finish cattle on silage alone, do not attempt it, it just wont work, as the ration will not have enough energy to finish cattle and will produce fat of the wrong colour."

Ability to manage and finish dairy-bred calves is also important, he added. "And, do you have sufficient skilled labour, as well as handling and weighing facilities?

"It is vital to monitor performance in terms of liveweight gain and whether cattle are meeting market specifications. Bulls should gain 1.25-1.3kg a day from 12 weeks old to finish at a carcass weight of 250kg at 12 months old."

He warned that legislative requirements may also have changed since calves were last reared on-farm. "Tagging, record keeping, health and safety issues and farm assurance are all much more important now."

Mr Sinclair also cautioned that cash-flow implications should be considered, and that BSP eligibility was vital (see Business). &#42