A SURVEY by the Genus owned Promar Consultancy points to around 175,000 more dairy cows being on the ground in the UK by 2019 if, as expected, dairy farmers respond to the abolition of milk quota next April by eventually producing up to 1.4 billion litres more milk each year, writes Robert Forster.
In the meantime the UK suckler herd continues to shrink. More than 100,000 suckler cows have been lost over the last three years and between January-March this year beef calf registrations were back by 7-8 per cent compared with the same three months last year. So it is not difficult to see that beef production will contract savagely unless many more dairy-bred beef calves are reared and finished.
The opportunities are vast – as long as dairy farmers are persuaded to put as many cows as possible to well-bred beef bulls, give the calves as much colostrum as they need, and then pass them on to rearers with as much bloom as possible.
Holstein cross male calves sired by British Blue or Simmental bulls produce a neat and valuable 330-340kg carcase well within the new age limits which classify R or U -.
More openings to breed, rear, and finish, more premium earning, fully certified, Angus, Hereford, and Shorthorn cross calves are emerging as well – and feeders say dairy bred stock has a big temperament advantage over sucklers too. (Robert Forster writes a weekly, on-line, Beef Industry Newsletter which is acclaimed by a range of readers across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Samples can be read on his website www.rforster.com. Subscriptions are £40 for three months, £60 six months and £100 a year.)