Higher prices make dairy bull calves profitable

Rising prices and strong demand mean dairy bull calf production is a profitable option for dairy farmers once again, auctioneers say.

Throughout spring and early summer calf prices at UK auctions have strengthened on the back of high finished and store cattle values, Andrew Wallace of Wright Manley at Beeston Market in Cheshire said.

“For farmer buyers in particular, some of the Continental prices are now out of reach. Farmers can buy three decent dairy bull calves at £60 for the price of one good Continental. Plus, there is a perception that, because of the credit crunch, some meat processors and buyers are now looking for a few more of the cheaper cuts.”

In response to the stronger demand, dairy bull calves were fetching good money, he said.

“Some have been making £80-100 at two to three weeks old, and we’ve had prices of £120-170 for dairy bulls at six to eight weeks. As more calves are delivered to the market, it is attracting more buyers which results in greater competition and better prices.”

Mr Wallace reckoned just £30 was needed to make a dairy bull calf profitable, so there was no need to shoot calves on farm. “If you’ve got the facilities to rear dairy bull calves to two or three weeks old, they can bring a good return.”