Business Farming

Wednesday 17 September 2014

It's unfair to make claims on heifers

Published 05/12/2012 | 06:00

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I am a medium-sized dairy farmer who also finishes cattle. For this reason, I am a regular purchaser of cattle at the mart throughout the year.

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Recently, I became aware of neighbouring farmers being sent outrageous claims many months after selling heifers to other farmers and dealers.

It struck me that all the claimants were very experienced cattle buyers whom I see regularly at the ringside.

A recent Open Forum writer highlighted the importance to him of buying only heifers that were not in calf.

But if this is so important to him, why doesn't he get a vet to pregnancy test his heifers as soon as they are purchased?

The cost of the vet's visit and medicine for one heifer would be about €60.

Indeed, on a good number of animals the cost would be only a fraction of the €60/hd.

The writer also stated that he has to keep the pregnant heifer separate in order to give it special attention.

However, I would argue that the purchaser of a pregnant heifer always has the option of selling the heifer at the mart with no warranty. I, for one, would buy these heifers at a price, regardless of whether the sire is known or not, because I believe that the potential profit far exceeds most other cattle bought at the mart.

I actually rang a dealer who was making a claim against my neighbour, looking for calved or in-calf heifers. He told me that he had a couple of heifers that had turned up in calf. However, he was not out of pocket by the price he was looking to sell them for.

When I am at the mart valuing cull cows, I always discount the unknown, such as potential feet prolems.

I believe that all females sold to other farmers should be sold as they stand, end of story.

I have witnessed some of my own cows scanned in calf, but only once have I ever caught sight of the bloody discharge material in the milking parlour to tell me that the cow had aborted.

On this basis, even selling a heifer or cow as in calf could be hazardous for the seller.

In conclusion, I believe that all females should be sold as they stand.

Buyers should only have 48 hours to return an animal, without any transport or mart fees being recovered from the seller.

At the very least, it raises a question over the competence of a buyer's judgement of cattle and their ability to look after stock. Name and address with the editor

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