Dairy-bred beef calves big role

21 September 2001

Dairy-bred beef calves big role

THE UK is facing a shortage of home-produced beef and dairy-bred beef calves have an important role to play in meeting this shortfall, but production efficiency and carcass quality must be improved.

Genetic improvements have increased production efficiency in the dairy, pig and poultry sectors, said Peter Hambleton, managing director of Quality Calves.

"But the beef sector has lagged behind, concentrating on show-type traits instead, resulting in smaller advances in efficiency."

Since estimated breeding values for beef bulls were introduced in 1989, uptake by dairy herds has been slow. But there are financial advantages when using high EBV beef bulls in dairy herds.

Research shows a £30 benefit for calves sired by high EBV Charolais bulls compared with average calves. This difference was due to increased daily weight gains and a 20% increase in animals grading at U/R, explained Mr Hambleton.

"Quality Calves superior calf scheme involves short-listing top AI sires according to EBV. Dairy producers are then paid a premium for calves sired by these bulls, which covers extra semen costs."

Beef producers get extra value from improved genetics, while dairy producers gain from the higher grading of calves at three weeks. In addition, increased supply of home-produced, high quality beef will help block imports, he said.

The scheme mainly contains Simmental, Charolais, Limousin and Belgium Blue calves from high ebv bulls. This is because most producers with Hereford and Angus cattle use their own stock bull and are not prepared to pay more than £1500 for a top bull.

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