17 September 2001
Rear dairy bull calves, says MLC

By FWi staff

DAIRY farmers have been urged by the Meat and Livestock Commission to reconsider rearing dairy bull calves rather than slaughtering them at birth.

The advice follows claims by a leading farmer that farmers would slaughter 200,000 calves this autumn because the animals have no value.

The commission believes supplies of home-produced beef will fall by 13% this year and meat prices will rise as a consequence.

This means that even dairy bull calves could have a value if they are reared for the processing market.

MLC beef economist Duncan Sinclair said foot-and-mouth restrictions made it difficult for farmers to find people willing to buy calves to finish.

Farmers with contacts in the beef finishing industry were finding it was possible to sell calves at a profit, he told the Daily Telegraph.

“One of the things we have been encouraging the industry to do to save on imports is to make more use of dairy bull calves,” he said.

“Even pure-bred dairy calves can produce lean beef for beefburgers.”

Mr Sinclair said the ability to make use of dairy bull calves had improved in the past year.

“Farmers need to revisit the issue. They may find the situation has improved.”