Fantasy farming competition embraces dairy breeds

A second Fantasy Farming Competition has been launched, this time looking at different pure and cross-bred dairy breeds, following the success of the Beef competition last year.

The aim of the competition is to see which dairy breeds – British Friesian, Brown Swiss, Montbeliarde, Swedish Red and Holstein – perform best and make the most profit.

Some 30 beef and dairy farmers from across Yorkshire are taking part and have been divided into 10 teams, each with two beef farmers and one dairy farmer and given eight calves to manage from 12 weeks old to finishing.

The calves are being kept at the National Beef Training Unit at the Yorkshire college, with support for the project coming from Asda, ABP and Lantra.

Monthly meetings will be held, covering topics such as nutrition, health and the supply chain, enabling the teams to draw on the knowledge gained to manage their stock, particularly the feed rations.

This time the aim is to see if using a dual-purpose dairy calf will increase profits, with the winning team the one producing the best product and the most profit, says project co-ordinator Oliver White.

“Last year’s beef league was hugely popular and produced some useful and, in some cases, surprising results. The league should provide useful information regarding breed selection.

“The cost of the calves varied greatly, from £132 for the British Friesians to £347 for the Monbeliardes. We expect the more expensive calves to grade better at 0+ or more, but it will be interesting to see if they make the most profit.

“It is a practical scenario where farmers can experiment without the cost or risk to their own businesses.

“It also gives our students an insight into the different options and the different results that occur from the varying management systems,” he says.

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