Supermarket starts buying dairy bull calves

ASDA’s new 360° Sustainable dairy calf scheme promises to put £2 million a year back into its DairyLink and BeefLink farmers’ pockets.

The scheme helps farmers in two ways. First, it provides farmers with sexed semen discounted by 20%, which provides 90% female calves. There are quarterly ‘best practise’ meetings to help farmers use it.

Second, the scheme creates a market for 12-month-old dairy bull calves. ASDA has reduced its carcass weight range from 280-400kg to 180-260kg.

If the animals can’t be raised on the dairy farms, they can be sold on and finished at BeefLink farms. In trials, the best calves raised on DairyLink farms made more than £200 profit each for the farmers.

ASDA also sells Rosé veal, but the market has remained niche. Twenty thousand bull calves are born a year on DairyLink farms, and this RSPCA-endorsed scheme means they can all be sold as ‘beef’.

ASDA’s intention was to announce this scheme at the Dairy Event next week, but the news has been released early to stop farmers culling the animals due to the TB export ban.

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