ICSA: Reduce sucklers or export dairy bull calves

Ireland needs to export its dairy bull calves or reduce suckler cow numbers to avoid creating a glut in the beef market, ICSA president Patrick Kent has warned.
ICSA: Reduce sucklers or export dairy bull calves

With dairy expansion boosting animal numbers, Mr Kent said farmers would be naive to think factories will behave any better when numbers creep up again. Farmers are likely to retain dairy calves in a bid to avoid quota fines this spring.

“Teagasc has published the cost of keeping a suckler cow as €635, but when we factor in the cows that don’t produce a calf every 12 months, the actual cost of the productive cows is €800,” said Mr Kent. “We can’t have a suckler herd of one million cows if there are no outlets for bulls over 16 months weighing 450kg.”

He said the opening of US and Chinese markets will be “meaningless unless they bring an improvement in the farmer’s bottom line”.

Meanwhile, John Brooks is ICSA’s new national sheep chairman. Based in Taughmaconnell, Co Roscommon, he was previously sheep vice-chairman.

He rears pedigree Suffolk and Texel flocks, plus a mid-season commercial flock and a mix of cattle systems, including suckler, dairy calf to beef and store to beef.

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Karen Walsh

Karen Walsh

Law of the Land

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