Breed more beef, dairy farmers urged
Teagasc advising sector to maximise use of beef crossing to boost value of calves
Teagasc is now advising dairy farmers to reassess their breeding policy for the 2019 season, on the back of animal welfare concerns and poor prices.
In a significant shift in its breeding advice to dairy farmers, Teagasc said it was "acutely conscious" of the importance of maintaining the high reputation that Irish farmers enjoy in the management of animal welfare.
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In a dairy breeding advice document, released for the 2019 breeding season and prepared by dairy specialist George Ramsbottom, it advises dairy farmers to match the number of dairy-breed female calves born to specific farm requirements and maximise the use of beef crossing to increase the potential value of the resulting calves.
"This spring, farmers experienced at first-hand a challenging market for dairy calves, which will influence their breeding decisions during the upcoming breeding season," the document states.
"Being able to sell calves quickly and easily is an important consideration, particularly in compactly calved and in larger dairy herds.
"Reducing the number of low-value dairy calves born will help."
It goes on to say that dairy farmers should seriously consider using sexed semen where bulls of very poor beef merit are being used.
It has also emerged that in Teagasc's research herds, the breeding policy in 2019 will see the number of low-value dairy calves reduced in the 2020 calving season by using a greater proportion of beef semen.