Spike in calf numbers piles pressure on prices
Calves from the dairy herd are likely to rise by another 100,000 this year, exposing already low calf prices to even further downward pressure.
Bull calf prices for export slipped by another €10 to €65-110/hd in Bandon mart yesterday.
"There was a big increase to 800hd this week, but it will be double that by March. Prices could hold, but only if there's no hiccups with the boats," said mart manager, Tom McCarthy.
Prices at Bandon, Macroom and Kilmallock yesterday were at €65-150 for the light dairy bulls for export, €90-180 for the 'farmer types', €200-350 for Angus and Hereford bulls and heifers, and €280-400 for the continental bulls and heifers.
The projected increase in calvings comes on the back of a 100,000 head increase in dairy calvings in 2015, the equivalent of an 8.5pc increase to a total of 1.27m head.
In addition, dairy farmers that traditionally fed calves to cope with quota restraints will be keen to sell bull calves at a younger age.
However, Bord Bia's Joe Burke cautioned beef farmers keen to take advantage of the opportunity of getting dairy bull calves at "first cost".
"Rearing calves is a specialised enterprise. Facilities, feeding and stockmanship skills all need to be of a very high standard in order to hit the desired performance targets," noted the beef specialist.