You can get a bull calf for the price of a cappuccino
TO city folk it looks like the bargain of the year – a healthy bull calf with a pedigree as long as your arm for the price of a cappuccino.
The calves are making just €2 a head in the sales rings down in Cork last week simply because they were born the wrong sex.
If they were females, the Holstein Crossbred calves would eventually become prolific producers of top quality milk and would be worth as much as €250 each from birth.
The trouble for dairy farmers is that if a bull calf is born by crossing a Holstein cow with a pedigree Jersey bull, the result is an animal that just doesn't cut it as a beef producer.
The high cost of feed and the inability of Crossbred Holsteins to put on weight at the same rate as the 'beefy' continental breeds such as Charolais and Simmental means they are worth less than nothing, as it costs between €15 and €50 to artificially inseminate these cows in the first place.
So the arrival of a bull calf is a disaster for the farmers who take a 50/50 gamble on producing a female that can be sold on at a handsome profit or kept in the dairy herd for years to come.
"It's true, I'm afraid. We have been selling bull calves for between €2 and €5 each. There is no market for the bull calves," Tom McCarthy of Cork Marts told the Sunday Independent.
"The main reason is that the Jersey breed in particular produces cows with great quality creamy milk, but male calves just don't make the grade as a beef animal."