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Dairy Calves 2024

  • 15-11-2022 3:19pm
    Registered Users Posts: 17,909 ✭✭✭✭

    We have had a few Dairy calves threads looking at the issues regarding what are a byproduct of the dairy system. Angus Woods has an article in today's FI

    In 2024 there will be a number of changes regarding there welfare, movement and slaughter.

    Minimum slaughter age will increase to eight weeks of age. Minimum age for movement from the farm of birth will be at least 28 days as this will be legislated by the European Parliament early next year. However in the rules passed last spring there was a limit of two hours travel time for unweaned calves. This in reality will mean calves under six weeks can not be moved beyond 100 miles and technically should prohibit export before that age.

    This will change the landscape regarding what happens at dairy farm level especially. Dairy farmers will be responsible for the young calf until a minimum of 4 weeks and probably for 6-8 weeks for calves that were traditionally exported or slaughtered.

    This probably changes the economics of the way a number of dairy farms looked at calves. They were considered a cost, and the quicker the calf exited the farm the better. Every day he spend drinking milk was a cost. If he impacted the ability of a cow to produce milk this was considered a negative. It was easier to manage the herd from a labour point of view by using low beef genetic merit bulls.

    Now with the necessity to keep calves longer these defects will be one more visible poor genetic quality calves will be more noticeable in the mart. At 4+ weeks of age calves not properly reared (not given adequate clostrum etc) will be more visible.

    In AW's article he mentioned that 61% of people who reared calves give it up and ate unwilling to return. Add to this the fact that calf rearing costs are rising ( especially milk powder, straw and calf rations).

    The change in rules may change that. Taking a 4-6 week old calf to rear compared a 10-18 day old is a different proposition. Marts will probably have to bring in a minimum weight to prevent dumping by some dairy farmers of unviable calves.

    Some dairy farmers will need to put in substantially extra calf rearing facilities. Calf rearers can now take January and a lot of February off. Calf numbers will now not start to come into marts until mid February and the glut will move to late March ( this will aid rearers as calves will be within 10-14 days of going outside as well by this time of year).

    Farmers that traditionally slaughtered calves will now have to feed them for eight weeks and maybe longer if there is a backup at slaughter plant. The Department will probably be watching calf death numbers on dairy farms to prevent any incident that could put the industry at risk

    So where to from here. Will this change the economics of the way dairy farmers look at a calf.ost calves at 6-8 weeks will have some value. With poorer quality more visible by size( poorer weight gain over 30-40 days as opposed to 10-18) this may also discourage early registration.

    If there is attempts to circumvent the rules I imagine the department and government will be willing to modify the rules to prevent this.

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 3,497 Mod ✭✭✭✭Siamsa Sessions

    It might put the sexed semen and DBI "solutions" under pressure.

    If they are as good as some in Teagasc and the media are claiming, then there shouldn't be much issue with producing solid beef calves which are either worth something to the beef farmer buying them or the dairy farmer keeping them til weanling/store/finished stage themselves.

    Trading as Sullivan’s Farm on YouTube

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,488 ✭✭✭White Clover

    There isn't any evidence so far to suggest that heads have been lifted out of sand.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,524 ✭✭✭mr.stonewall

    DBI will be dead in the water before it starts. The calvung index is worth 49% of the value and this is broken into 35% for calving difficulty and 13% for gestation. Therefore bulls like KYA and his clan will move up the scale greatly on the DBI index. The weightings need to be seriously looked at with greater input from beef farmers. The index as it's will still produce high index, lightweight poor grading cattle

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,524 ✭✭✭mr.stonewall

    That is a belter of a post bass. Sums up the situation in a single post. Change is coming and coming fast

    I wonder has Angus used the boards threads to form the basis for some of his pieces in the FI. Spotting a trend

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 2,922 Mod ✭✭✭✭K.G.

    You got to hand to larry,its now looks like after years bleeding the drystock farmers dry he has now managed to creat a system where he can milk the dairy cow without lifting a finger.getting dairy farmers to rear calves is not going to result in one extra penny in drystock farmers pockets.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,874 ✭✭✭Sheep breeder

    You ask the question who come up DBI and what was their agenda. Now where do they go from here with the new rules and wake up to the big problem coming down the road with bad calves,

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,352 ✭✭✭Wildsurfer

    Thanks for that post Bass. Think it's time to start planning a new calf shed!

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭GrasstoMilk

    If I rear calves to 8 weeks Id be better off to keep them and bring to slaughter myself.

    Large part of the poor return in beef imo is too low of a stocking rate and little to no grassland management. Calf type has little relevance if farmers don’t sort out those 2 key areas

    for example - the weanlings with my contract rearer are under weight, his logic is that they should have gotten 2 kg at grass instead of 1 kg

    nothing about trying to improve grassland management a bit 🤯

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,909 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    Dairy farmers have to make a choice. Land is the new quota. Keeping a calf to finish would be 76 kgsN/ HA slaughtered at exactly 24 months. That nearly a dairy cow. For every beef unit you keep you will need to get rid of a dairy cow.

    Running cattle in an intensive system is demanding enough. Most beef farmers are moving away from a rely intensive system as costs are horrendous.

    If you want to have at it. On a good year you will make a few bob in a bad year you will be at nothing. If you look at most lads doing beef on boards most have moved away from intensive and winter finishing systems.

    Agree with you about grassland management. The day is gone of letting cattle have the run of the place or letting twenty yearling into a 10-12 acre field and moving them after a month to six weeks.

    But keep that figure in your head every beef unit is a cow going out the gate.

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,874 ✭✭✭Sheep breeder

    Well there is the answer to the problem solved let the super dairy man rear his own calves to beef and show everyone how easy it is done 😇😇😇😇😇

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,723 ✭✭✭GrasstoMilk

    was how we operated here previously, yes there’s no massive money in it but if ran well it’s not a loss maker on owned land and we had je blood in what was being reared too

    not meant as an attack at dairy calf to beef farmers but the game has changed and leaving stock in a paddock for even a week is not where it’s at if trying to make any sort of money from farming

    margins are not like they used to be, yes calf type has its part to play in the whole thing but so does the farmers own management

    if I acquired the land I would rear our own calves for as far as I could tbh

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,006 ✭✭✭✭Base price

    As farmers who used to rear (up to 3 years ago) around three hundred mostly FR/HEx/AAx and some continental calves annually we quit due to rising input costs. When cmr prices rose to over .27c/l or 130g/l equivalent we quit feeding large numbers as it wasn't sustainable at the then beef prices.

    If cmr and meal costs were to reduce dramatically or there was some sort of subsidy to offset said costs than we would consider rearing simular numbers again.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,861 ✭✭✭alps

    Would that subsidy make more sense than a suckler cow payment?

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    What if they brought in a payment associated to grassland management and related efficient use of fertiliser? Could be a win win.

    Fellas finishing cattle at 30 months, fair enough if they are scrubs but if they have any quality at all the cattle should be gone at 23 to 27 months with efficient practices.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,274 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath

    There is the €20 / head subsidy for the first 40 calves, its not a lot but at least it is something, however if there is a subsidy then the likely hood is that it will be paid back to the dairy farmer in the price given for calves.

    The issue is the cost to bring an animal from calf to beef is the same for every calf in your system, so the animal that is a better converter of feed to beef & the animal that kills out nearer 350 kgs dead weight is the more profitable animal. Any animal that will only kill 250 kgs -280 kgs is going to loose you money no matter what your system is An O= Holstein Fr @350 kgs dead @ €5 base will come into around €1,750 where as a P+ Frx @ 280 Kgs dead @ €5 base will come into something around €1,300, on the 20 calves I rear a year that nearly €9,000 with the same costs involved. I generally rear AAx / HEx calves and Holstein Frs that will kill near the 350 kgs mark. I wouldn't take anything that will kill out less then 300 kgs if I got it for nothing, but I always seem to get caught with 1 or 2. If dairy farmers have to hold their calves longer it will be easier to spot these poorer preforming cattle.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,909 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    Problem with that thinking is that land is the quota. Remember every beef unit takes the place of a dairy cow. As well changes are coming down the line regarding stocking and derogation. Higher producing cows are heading for 100k N/Ha and the derogation is probably going to be reduced to 220 kgsN from 250.

    There is a lot of dairy farmers renting land at 300+/HA have a go at making money out of beef at that. Smaller producers are looking at organics and ACRES which limit production. Finally you are limited by SFP. Rented land will no longer be subsidized to dairy farmers as 60k limit come into place

    A lot of dairy production methods do not transfer to beef. For instance Teagasc advice previous was grazing @ 1400kg/HA, they now accept that heavier covers are better in beef up to 2k/HA and topping after. A week between movement is grand it when it gets beyond that it's an issue. 4-5 days is ideal. And top every 2-3 rotations

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 3,497 Mod ✭✭✭✭Siamsa Sessions

    You'd spot obvious poor calves at the mart when they're 2-4 weeks, but its hard to tell after that. Especially when there's maybe 20 inside in one small pen.

    Trading as Sullivan’s Farm on YouTube

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,909 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    This is the huge misconception. We cannot have 50-60% of the beef finished in a 4-5 month window especially when that window is at the highest cost production time of year mainly Dec to May.

    Present beef prices are over a euro kg below last June's peak that is 300-350 euro/head and our production is about 10% above the yearly average. If we squeeze more cattle into the high cost winter period no 100euro subsidity will pay you. Most of us small finisher's have been there and are not going f@@king back there.

    There is starting to be no such thing as efficient fertilize use in beef. Smaller finishers are getting 20&30c+/ kg less that larger producers and the unfair trading practices are not interested.

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,274 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath

    Now that most marts are weighing calves it has made it easy to spot the poor performers. Was looking at runners the other day, there was a few FRx lads March born and they were only 135 kgs (made €210 with a struggle) after them came in a LMx bull 1 month old and he was 125 kgs and made €480.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,909 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    A P+ Friesian will makes 25c/ kg less than O=/- grading Friesian's. When you add that to the difference it another 1500 euro to the difference

    Slava Ukrainii

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,594 ✭✭✭Mooooo

    If there isn't a route out-of the country for decent proportion of calves it won't matter what they are or where they're raised, Larry will have everyone by the balls. Whether we like it or not as dairy farmers Je isn't gonna be viable in the near future, which is a pity because as dairy cows they do the Job fine. Exporters won't want jex and calf to beef don't want em either so no choice in the matter really

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    There is already a premium in many ways as efficient producers get cattle away early at a higher price and the early season breed bonus

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 2,922 Mod ✭✭✭✭K.G.

    There seems to be a feeling that beef lads will have the calves reared for them now and they will be able to pick the nice stuff and let the yokes behind.but the problem is those yokes are going to reppear going up the factory chute before yours and squeezing your price and the factory manager wouldnt give one dam about your tasty animals.these regs are bad news for dairy farmers but they are going to destroy beef farming

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,006 ✭✭✭✭Base price

    The majority of suckler cows are in the West of the country and IMO those farmers are not going to switch systems to rear dairy bred calves. Most are part time farmers and don't necessarily rely on the farm to pay the bills as long as they break even they will continue to breed quality cattle.

    The majority of CMR sold in Ireland is manufactured by the one Dutch company (Van Drie group) under many different guises. AFAIK there is also some made in France. Unfortunately we don't produce CMR here anymore and transport/distribution costs contribute hugely to the price per ton. Maybe one of the creameries should look at producing CMR which should be more affordable to Irish farmers.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,909 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    That is all very well but Larry &Co will squeeze the price to reflect these bonuses. The AIBP/ Kepak-Glanbia is conditional on reduced movements and getting veterinary inspection ( that will cost 150-200/ farm so 5 euro/ head on a 40 head slaughter. The government slaughter premium if it comes on will be strictly U24 months. There was a Winter slaughter premium before a d processors gobbled it up.

    No there will still be a market for the lesser calf. However a poorer quality dairy cross or even those AA/HE that will only gain 4-500 gram per day or less will stand out. Neighbour dose calves AA&HE and I saw them in May there was a serious gap between the poor quality and the better quality ones.... and the poorer quality were the eldest calves there.

    Now you will be able to pick the quality calf at 5-6 weeks and pay 250-300 euro for him, however the poorer quality AA/ HE will still be grand at 6-7 weeks at 50 euro

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Price was 5.25 early summer and is 4.65 now. Factor in the additional cost of feeding silage and there is a serious premium in getting stock away early.

    The stock gone in May June would be 26 to 29 months if off dairy stock.

  • Registered Users Posts: 265 ✭✭smallbeef

    I don't think there's anyone on here whose business model is bringing dairy beef through the their 3rd winter so there is no extra silage costs between 25 and 32 months generally.

    If lads are killing dairy beef at 32 months and they are hanging at 340kg now, they were probably only going to hang at 250kg at the peak prices in May. So the extra time might be justified. These animals will always be around.

    But I agree 27 months for spring born dairy beef seems about the sweet spot between a falling price and rising weight if the animal is suitable. Problem is not all animals are suited to it and some need more time.

    U24 months may as well be U20 months as far as I'm concerned as either they'll go before the winter or they wait till early summer. IMO 100/h payment that ties you to U24 month slaughter is nowhere near enough.

    I have 4/5 HE/AA that could have gone before housing at 20 months, weighing avg 530kg and great condition. Did this little projection/calc last week to determine their fate:

    I am taking a gamble that the base price will be 5 but even if it was the same as now I'd still be 150/h better off keeping them till 27 months.

    Then I have 20ish more AA/HE that are 470-500 and not fit so no choice but to carry them to 27/28 months.

    The rest are Holsteins that are +500kgs but they will need good grass and a bit of meal to finish U30 months.

    Farmers need freedom to finish away when its right for the them and the animals they have. I'd be very slow to tie into anything that forces you when to slaughter.

    If calf export stops its a real mess, there are already too many dairy beef in the country for any real market. The only hope is that with the higher nitrates bands for cows and the extra work/costs involved if this calf age thing happens, dairy farmers will pull back a bit on the numbers. But it could be a disaster for beef for a few years until numbers reduce. I don't see how DBI or sexed semen going to help things. Quantity was always more of an issue than quality for me, drags down the price for everyone.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,909 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    You are under a huge flawed assumption that

    1. Every animal has the potential to slaughter at a certain age

    2 that no imbalance in the market will occur by pushing extra product into it.

    On a five year average I say the difference between May/June slaughter compared to November slaughter was about 35-40c/ kg. 5.25 would have not been the max got in June this year the real action. Was on cows and flat priced AA's. Early May was no where as hot as late May/June

    Yes if I was rearing my own from calves or weanlings I would seriously be trying to get as many out before late June. On a five year average the most profitable cattle have been July August cattle. This year it was May/June, last year it was the cattle slaughtered in September/October as it was higher than the May/June price a d as good as the August price. For the 2-3 years before that it was July/August cattle and winter finished cattle made no more after a ton of ration. That is why a good few on here have exited winter finishing

    Teagasc are pushing the slaughter of 18-20 month old AA/HE cattle off grass in October/ November if that continues lads slaughtering those cattle will get creamed on a bad year and there will be few good years.

    Fir those worrying about exports I am not overly concerned. There will still be exports, just cal es will be older. As well export of yearling will continue or even get stronger.

    Finally carcass weight has plummeted from a 360 kg average to 320 and will drop lower. Every 10 kg drop is taking the equivalent of 60k cattle out of the system

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    18 to 20 months from teagasc is daft

    As for dairy progeny I had heifers weigh 269 at 20 months and I had a shot of bullocks come in over 300 kg at 23 months.

    Breeding has a lot to say in it. A fellow buying a handy few cattle will do better than a fellow buying big numbers as they won’t be buying enough to have to buy the scrubs. Mainly finish home born cattle buying a small amount

    I can understand 27 months but 30 months doesn’t make sense to me.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,274 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath

    The saying " ounce of breeding is worth a tonne of feeding" is very much applicable to the beefing cattle born from a dairy herd. If dairy farmers want a market for their calves they need to bred what the market wants.