Farmers right to be wary of Jersey option
Everybody has always known that Jersey crossbred bull calves from the dairy herd were about as useful as ashtrays on motorbikes.
But it was the prospect of an extra €100 profitability per lactation that has tempted a number of dairy farmers to make the leap.
The outcross gives the resultant calves a shot of hybrid vigour, or increased fertility. They are also better suited to extended grazing because of their compactness and hard black hooves. And they produced higher milk solids.
All in all, a no-brainer -- except farmers weren't really buying into it.
Out of the 700,000 AI straws that go into our dairy cows annually, less than 5pc are Jersey. In fact Jersey inseminations actually dropped last year.
The biggest reservation that farmers had with an irreversible move to crossbreeding was the damage that such a move would inflict on the value of the resulting bull calf.
When the mart trade is bad, these calves often fail to attract even a bid. The most sensible thing to do was bring them to a knackery to be put down.
The worthlessness of the crossbred Jersey bull calf also had profound implications for the beef sector.