‘There is no shortage of drystock farmers looking to contract rear heifers’

Through the contract rearing of dairy replacement heifers, beef farmers can increase stocking rate without the need for investment in stock.

Speaking to AgriLand, Teagasc’s Tom Coll – a drystock advisor – said: “There is no shortage of drystock farmers looking for heifers.”

Tom runs a discussion group of contract rearers based in Co. Leitrim; the group is made up of 16 members rearing almost 2,500 heifers.

“More contract rearers want to join the group, but they can’t find any heifers to contract rear. There are drystock farmers across the country looking to rear heifers, but can’t find any.

Why?

“I think a lot of contemplation is going on amongst dairy farmers on contract rearing, but they haven’t made the decision yet. Dairy farmers don’t realise the benefits of contract rearing,” explained Tom.

Contract rearing can free up time for a farmer to concentrate on managing the present milking herd and the contract rearer can concentrate on rearing the future milking herd.

The way I see it is, the dairy farmer has the use of the contract rearer’s land and facilities to rear his heifers.

“Some dairy farmers don’t realise that they can actually expand from contract rearing,” highlighted Tom.

They are freeing up the land that the heifers are reared on for either grazing or silage, so that the farm has the land capacity to increase cow numbers, if the farmer wishes.

He said: “Dairy farmers don’t know that these discussion group structures exist and are being set up across the country so that contract rearers can learn and progress.”

Tom’s discussion group meet a number of times over the year for grass walks and for workshops on financials and breeding.

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