This can benefit both sides as the dairy farmer can offload a large number of calves very quickly without having to spend time going to and from marts, exposing the animals to diseases.
It also reduces labour requirements on his own farm.
The beef farmer has a prior knowledge of the health status and vaccination protocol of the dairy farm and also the knowledge of whether colostrum intake was adequate or not.
He now has a large number of his calves to rear from minimum sources, thereby reducing disease and cross contamination of stock.
Marts are another option where the beef farmer can buy only the calves he wants and at a price suitable to him.
If available on the day, a large number of even weight and age calves can be grouped together.
The downside are the disease risks and stress associated with mixing large numbers of other animals, plus the time involved in attending the mart, particularly if there are a lot of other essential works to be carried out at the home farm.
Agents provide a very convenient service to beef farmers who don't have the time to go to marts or other farms to source their calves.
The agent can very quickly put together a bunch of calves to be reared. Building up a good relation with an agent is essential so that he/she can source the type of calf you require and at a price that is agreeable to both parties.
Again the disadvantages of this system are, there are calves coming from a number of different sources with no knowledge of herd health or colostrum management.
Calves have often spent a long time travelling and this may lead to additional stress. Similar to marts there are transport costs, fees and levies to pay.
There are a number of areas to look at when selecting your calf.
- Ideally calves should be three to four weeks of age, but at least a minimum of two weeks.
- Calves should be at least 50kgs when moved to your farm.
- Buy from a reputable source. The more information and details you have about the calf and the farm, the better equipped you are to know of prior feeding and vaccinations given, and herd health status of the original farm.
- Select from as few sources as possible to reduce disease risk being brought on to farm.
- Keep transport distances as short as possible to reduce calf stress.