Dairy Beef Calves: Advice For Farmers
“Calf-to-beef systems come down to three key elements: the price you buy the calf at, the price you receive when you sell it and all the management in between as that is what dictates profitability.”
That is what Gordon Peppard, advisor, Teagasc Dairy Beef 500, told attendees of a Dairy Beef 500 farm walk, hosted by Jarlath and Austin Ruane in Claremorris, Co Mayo on Thursday, July 13th, 2023.
During his presentation, he outlined the important qualities to seek when sourcing calves and the power of a new tool, the Commercial Beef Value, also known as CBV, as previously outlined in this news article.
Peppard explained: “When you are buying your calves, you are buying them on appearance, and they probably look well and similar, but you do not know how they are going to perform.”
“With the addition of known genetics, there is a new tool, from the ICBF and Teagasc, called the CBV – Commercial Beef Value, which provides a € value and star rating on an animal’s genetic merit for beef production,” he explained.
“Basically, it provides a star rating for each calf and this ranges from one to five stars,” he added.
CBVs are based on five key traits, which are, he told attendees, “critical for any beef producer and are all the figures from the Dairy-Beef Index (DBI) with calving figures removed”.
Traits as follows –
- Carcass weight;
- Feed intake.
The tool is available for all animals that are likely to be slaughtered with three breed types:
- Beef x beef;
- Beef x dairy;
- Dairy x dairy.
|Star Rating||Beef x Dairy||Dairy x Dairy|
“If you are buying a one-star animal, they will have a much lesser value than a five-star animal. Now, you have a tool or ammunition when you go to buy your calves. If you can get a CBV for it, you should be able to give more for the five-star animal than the one-star animal.”
“Or to put it another way, you definitely should be giving less for the one-star animal than the five-star animal.”
He explained that farmers can access a CBV profile via ICBF’s dashboard, and it contains:
- Breed type;
- Star rating (across the breed);
- Carcass weight (kg);
- Carcass conformation (1-15 scale).
Gordon then went on to discuss what to look for when sourcing calves:
- Problem-free – In good health: bright, alert, free from discharge, willing to feed and good on their feet;
- From a trusted source – obtain as much information about the calf as possible
- Received adequate quality colostrum;
- Value for money;
- Age 3 weeks +;
- Known genetics – Record of sire data;
- Weight and grade at slaughter;
- Avoid sick/young calves.
He added: “When sourcing your calves, you want them to come from a trusted source and ideally, when dealing directly with a dairy farmer, they probably have a lot more information than if coming from a trader or even the mart.”
“You probably know how much colostrum they got or whether the cow was vaccinated against scour.
“You want a problem-free value for money calf. It is important to review the age that you are buying calves in at.”
“If we can put the age of the calf coming into the beef farms from 2 weeks up to 3 weeks, we are adding 50% of age onto that calf. That gives the calf a real opportunity to get over the risks of corona and rotavirus, and a lot of the other scour types that are involved,” he concluded.
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