Adoption of dairy calf auction system will help to boost domestic beef

UK - More dairy bred bull calves are moving onto the market and the National Beef Association is keen to see both domestic rearer-finishers and export buyers competing for these at auction.
calendar icon 6 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

“Over 40,000 Holstein bull calves have been exported since March and decent calves able to be reared for veal or bull beef are now averaging £50-£60 compared with an all-market average of less than £5 at the beginning of the year,” explained NBA policy advisor, Kim Haywood.

“Not surprisingly dairy farmers have reacted by rearing more calves and the net result is that, despite the export traffic, more Holstein bull calves are already moving through the domestic rearing system and production in this section of the industry is increasing.”

And the Association believes even more dairy bred calves would be made available to both exporters, and the domestic industry, if auction centres could once again conduct sales at which each type of purchaser could compete on equal terms for the animals on offer.

“Calf sales through auctions would not only pull in more dairy bred calves that would otherwise be wasted they will also give domestic buyers and exporters an equal chance to review what is on offer and compete for the animals they want,” said Ms Haywood.

“Movement so far has been hampered by the difficulties created by the health screening requirements for export animals but positive discussions between industry representatives and government mean these problems are close to being solved.”

According to the NBA both Defra and Seerad have been advised that the difficult paper trail currently surrounding individual calf movements can be replaced by email coverage for entire consignments.

And the Association has confirmed that arrangements are also in train to establish a system that allows suitable auction centres to be approved as specialist Assembly Markets (AM) where health screened animals can enter and leave the sales premises without jeopardising their health status.

“We are hoping for confirmation that competitive sales of health screened cattle can be conducted at export approved Assembly Markets where tightly specified isolation, assembly and dispersal procedures are observed,” said Ms Haywood.

“We expect the details to be announced shortly and hope that the industry will support the markets that make the effort to become AMs and recognize that this revised system should not only mean more dairy calves will be put at the disposal of the beef sector but there will also be equal opportunities for export and domestic buyers to purchase them.”

“Dairy farmers themselves should acknowledge that the calves most likely to attract the attention of bidders will have been given ample colostrum and be ready to respond to an organized feeding regime.”

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