20 Jul 2015

Farmers could make more from bobby calves

3:16 pm on 20 July 2015

Dairy farmers are being advised to look to their bobby calves for extra income during the tight financial times.

Jersey calves

Jersey calves Photo: 123RF

Beef and Lamb New Zealand and AgResearch have been trialing using proven beef bulls to sire dairy calves.

About 70 percent of the country's beef cattle are born on a dairy farm - with calves often sold at four days old.

But those calves are mostly from sires of unknown genetic merit and are less desirable to rearers and finishers because of their unknown potential for growth and meat quality.

The trial's project manager Doug Lineham said early results showed that dairy farmers could be making more money from their bobby calves with the use of beef genetics.

"The commercial beef industry in New Zealand is reliant on the dairy industry now for its raw material and they just don't have enough prime beef, so the opportunities taken to use proven beef genetics over dairy cows in a trial to prove that one: proven beef genetics will not damage dairy cows and will add significantly to a farmer's bottom line.

"Right now while the milk price is low, there is an opportunity for farmers to have an impact on their financial bottom line, for example a bobby calf is worth some where between $25 and $40 this year, a beef cross calf is selling right now in south Auckland for $350, so lets say it's an average of $120-$130 for the season. There's a substantial mark up available there for a certified beef cross calf that leaves the farm at four days of age, just like a bobby calf would."

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