Creating value for non-replacement dairy calves focus at South Island Dairy Event

A Beef + Lamb New Zealand sponsored session at the recent South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) offered possible solutions to the vexing problem of non-replacement calves in the dairy industry.

image of dairy beef cattle

The Creating value for non-replacements through Dairy Beef programmes panel discussion featured Dan Brier (B+LNZ’s General Manager, Farming Excellence) Dean Carson from Miti, Alan McDermott from Pearl Veal, Cameron Walker of Pamu and Dr Rebecca Hickson from Fonterra.

All talked about opportunities to add value to dairy beef from genetics through to new dairy beef markets such as Miti and Perl Veal.

Dan Brier talked about a recent visit to Ireland to see how the Irish dairy industry was addressing the issue of non-replacement (bobby) calves from the dairy industry.

He said the visit really highlighted the size of the challenge in NZ, with the Irish working to reduce the number of young calves slaughtered from a much lower base than NZ, driven by the risk the see to the social license of their dairy farms.

The use of sexed-semen, beef genetics, a national data recording system, the development of a Commercial Beef Value, which attributes a monetary value on each calf based on its genetic merit, and the requirements of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme have all contributed to a decrease the number of bobby calves.

Brier felt that because of their proximity to markets, there was a greater awareness of the reputational risk these calves posed to the dairy industry.

Daniel Carson talked about the recently released, protein-rich Mīti beef bar which is made from bobby calves raised to 12 months and how he is working to create a whole supply chain system. Alan McDermott from Pearl Veal discussed how his company was working with farmers to produce a premium product aimed at the food service industry.

Dr Rebecca Hickson spoke about how the outcomes of Dairy Beef Progeny Tests have proved the value of using superior beef genetics over dairy cows for the benefit of the dairy farmer, the calf rearer and beef finisher.

The information generated from these tests can be used by dairy farmers to inform their bull buying decisions.

Cameron Walk from Pāmu outlined how the organisation was changing its system with the goal of rearing 100 percent of its non-replacements and the work they doing using beef genetics across their herds.

 Dan Brier says B+LNZ was pleased to be able sponsor the session at SIDE.

“As levy payers, dairy farmers are an important part of B+LNZ and B+LNZ is working with the dairy industry to help reduce calf wastage and add value to the dairy beef produced within dairy systems.”