High cost suckled calves must be sold onto high priced markets.

UK - The massive price/cost gap between dairy beef and suckler beef can only be bridged if suckled calf breeders concentrate even harder on quality and then make sure more of their cattle are sold to premium paying customers – more of whom are likely to be operating on the expanding export market.
calendar icon 29 January 2007
clock icon 3 minute read
This is the view of the National Beef Association which has been asking itself how money can be made from breeding suckled calves when the additional premium on a suckler bred store, compared with a cross-bred dairy animal of similar weight and condition, is only in the region of £50 in some parts of England – and hits a maximum of £150 in parts of Wales, the North of England and Scotland.

“The enormous extra cost of keeping the cow has to be overcome by more emphasis on her quality, and the quality of the bull, so that the calf produced is quite obviously a superior animal in conformation terms that also grows well and can achieve slaughter weight quickly at an attractively low cost,” suggested NBA chairman Duff Burrell .

“Then these top quality calves have to be targeted at feeders who can pay full whack for them because they have already organized high priced outlets, or are kept on by breeders who are able to take a fully professional approach to finishing themselves.”

According to the NBA there is no future for suckler bred calves offered as standard R4L carcases to big slaughterers who are only able to pay a 5p per dwkg , or around £16-£17 a head, premium because of the tight supply arrangements they have with the dominant supermarkets.

“High cost calves must be sold onto high priced markets. There is no other solution for the specialist suckler breeder and it is fortunate that more of these outlets are beginning to be developed by exporters,” said Mr Burrell.

“Domestically the sale of some, very smart, light heifers to local butchers has always been a useful crutch but Dovecote Park and Waitrose are currently the only domestic partnership that is prepared to pay better money, in their case 240p dwkg , for large numbers of in-spec, suckler bred, Angus cattle each week.”

“So at the moment is looks as if the export market will be the only one that can carry the volume necessary to deliver more, much needed, income for the suckler sector.”

”But even this requires care. There are so many new markets, each with its different specification, that it is very easy to deliver the wrong animal to a customer and this could mean earning £100-£150 less than it if had been sold to the right one.”

“Income success in the export market will very much depend on accurate selection at the finishing stage and the delivery of exactly the right type of animal for a specific customer or market. Finishers who lack experience can either put their cattle through a large auction centre or take specialist deadweight advice,” Mr Burrell added.

The CattleSite news Desk
© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.