What it takes for a successful contract rearing relationship to work
An increasing number of drystock farmers are looking to the expanding dairy herd as a source of potential regular income.
"It is all about trust," said Teagasc advisor Tom Coll, who set up a contract rearing group in the north-west. "You must build up a relationship and that can take a couple of years."
He explained the interest in contract rearing has increased strongly in the last few months after the busy spring on many dairy farms.
"It is expanding now. There are about another six or seven farmers that are looking for stock for 2018," said Tom, adding many farmers have been coming along to their meetings to learn about it.
"They can achieve a €1,000-plus gross margin - there is a lot of potential there provided they keep the cost down, use minimum concentrates, use good quality silage and operate a paddock system."
Tom said many dairy farmers were worried about handing over their valuable dairy heifers to another farmer to raise but the scan rates obtained by their group showed they were on top of their game.
"They have the fear that they are letting go of a very valuable heifer and putting that trust in someone else to get them in-calf but the farmers are clear on what it takes to hit the targets and they have built it up over the years," he said.
"They were aiming to get 95pc of the heifers in-calf in the first six weeks," he said. "They are very good results. The critical thing is if they can get them in-calf in the first three weeks of the breeding season it has an overall lifetime effect on the herd profitability," he said.