Dairy farmers are 'not in the business of meat sales'

A holstein cow
A holstein cow

Martin Ryan

Dairy farmers are not in the "business of meat sales" - that was the clear message from one New Zealand agri-advisor.

Kerry native Dr John Roche from the Down to Earth Consultancy firm has advocated the New Zealand-gene Holstein or Holstein-Jersey crossbred cows with a body weight of 500-525kg as the most efficient animal to maximise profits on grass-based dairy farms.

Speaking at the recent LIC-Eurogene event in Co Limerick and Co Tipperary, Dr Roche dismissed concerns raised over the low value of male offspring from Holstein-Jersey herds, as he advised expanding dairy farmers to "definitely go for crossbred for an easier animal".

Countering the criticism of poor-quality male offspring, he said: "It's absolutely very clear: as dairy farmers we are not in the business of meat sales.

"I have had the discussion with a lot of people on the value of the male offspring from the crossbred herd.

"On the average Irish dairy system the stock sales are about 10pc of income, and if the bull calf is 50pc of stock sales that equates to 5pc of the revenue from sales, but the increase in milk revenue is potentially 25-30pc," he added of the Holstein-Jersey cross.

He said that the most modern Irish Holstein is very similar to the NZ-type Holstein but in his opinion it is very much dependent on her fertility. He pointed out that if the fertility is poor then an option for improvement is Jersey or Holstein-Jersey cross.

Dr Roche said the size of a cow can prove more important than the breed.

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He said the typical Holstein-Friesian cow would be around 600kg liveweight and "walks more for every kg/DM she grazes and you are paying for a lot of maintenance".

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