Farm Ireland

Friday 19 April 2019

Kepak-Glanbia to genotype 10pc of calf-to-beef animals in bid to exclude Jersey stock

Jersey stock excluded from the Twenty20 dairy-calf-to-beef initiative

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Around 10pc of the calves involved in the Kepak-Glanbia dairy-calf-to-beef programme will be genotyped to ensure that they meet with the guidelines of the initiative.

The 'Twenty20 Beef Club' pilot programme, which was launched last week, aims to finish around 6,000 calves from Glanbia milk suppliers.

However, Jersey calves, and Jersey crosses are excluded from the programme.

A Glanbia spokesman said the genotyping will be part of the initiative's validation process and will be paid for by the sponsors.

Jersey bull calves have been very difficult to sell this spring, with as low as €5/hd being offered for them in the marts.

Glanbia officials also insisted that using bulls with a high Dairy Beef Index will help farmers to breed calves that are capable of finishing at higher weights and that grade under the QPS.

Producing stock that finish at an R grade or better has been a major challenge for farmers operating dairy-calf-to-beef systems. Cattle grading O and P from these units face cuts of 18-24c/kg off the QPS base price.

However, Glanbia officials maintained that the correct sire choice and management can ensure that stock finished under this system can get onto the grid.

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With the surge in dairy expansion now slowing, farmers will be in a better position to tailor their breeding regimes and deliver more dairy-beef stock, a Glanbia spokesman said.

Teagasc has stated that farmers involved in dairy-calf-to-beef production will have to be paid a minimum of €4.05/kg into the hand to make a margin of €200/hd on calves bought this spring. This is based on an average purchase price of €75/hd, and €1,000/hd to finish the calf to beef.

Under the Kepak-Glanbia programme, animals enrolled in the first two years (2019 and 2020) will be paid the average market price, plus a club premium of 15- 25c/kg, as well as a Club Protocol Bonus of 12c/kg (this equates to the QA bonus). Members will also benefit from additional price support in the event of a weak market price.

There will also be a 'seasonality' bonus to promote the marketing of animals in April (+6c/kg), May (+10c/kg) and June (+6c/kg). Members will also be eligible for Angus or Hereford breed bonus payments.

"At an average market base price of €4.00/kg, a Twenty20 Beef Club Angus steer slaughtered in April 2021 will qualify for a net price of €4.43/kg; at a market price of €3.75/kg, the same animal would earn €4.28/kg," the programme sponsors claimed.

Glanbia and Kepak aim to grow participation in the initiative to 50,000 calves over the coming years.

Much of this growth will come from Glanbia suppliers finishing their own stock, a Glanbia spokesman accepted.

He pointed out that 37pc of Glanbia's suppliers have beef operations which are run in parallel with their dairy enterprise. The Twenty20 Beef Club might suit many of these farmers, he said.


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