Poll: What will dairy farmers do with their bull calves this spring?

A key question facing Irish dairy farmers ahead of the coming spring – and accompanying matter of dairy calves – is: What to do with the male calves?

To get to the bottom of this, AgriLand has developed a poll with two questions; the first of these directly asks dairy farmers the following:

“What will you do with your male dairy calves this spring?”

A number of options are included in the poll, as can be seen below.

What do you intend on doing with your male dairy calves?

  • Sell them after at least 14 days for export (22%)
  • Sell them after at least 10 days in private sale (19%)
  • Keep them and rear them for beef (18%)
  • Sell them after at least 10 days in the mart (15%)
  • Keep them for longer, for example six to eight weeks (13%)
  • Other (9%)
  • Look into a contract rearing arrangement (4%)

Thank you for voting on AgriLand

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Another question for dairy farmers would be: “In the event of retaining calves for longer than the legal holding period, do you have adequate facilities, calf accommodation and labour for this spring?”

This could apply to plans already in place to hold calves, or unforeseen circumstances necessitating the retention of extra animals.

In the event of retaining calves for longer than the legal holding period, do you have adequate facilities, accommodation and labour for this spring?

  • No (57%)
  • Yes (43%)

Thank you for voting on AgriLand

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Earlier today, Tuesday, October 29, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) sparked debate on the matter with the proposal that dairy farmers should pay beef farmers to contract rear their calves.

‘Welfare is number one’

Meanwhile, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) held a panel discussion last week on Tuesday, October 22, in the Hotel Kilmore, Co. Cavan.

The discussion included industry representatives from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS), Teagasc and the IFA.

Maintaining a high level of calf welfare on farms this coming spring was a huge focus of the discussion – with all industry representative agreeing that calf welfare must be a ‘top priority’.

Speaking at the event, Teagasc’s Dr. Pat Dillon – the head of the Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Programme – stressed:

“We will lose on the welfare. Welfare is priority, welfare is number one – because as an industry we will never justify poor welfare of our dairy calves.”

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