September 1, 2008


UK finds Holstein bull beef to become more attractive


Holstein bull beef is expected to become more attractive in the UK market due to lower rearing calf prices, cheaper grains and an improving market for slaughter cattle.


The National Beef Association (NBA) said that the economics behind Holstein bull calf rearing are suddenly becoming more favourable and cattle finished from this time next year are expected to be sold on a hungry market.


Replacement dairy heifers continue to be scarce and expensive and as a result dairy bull inseminations in the milking herd remain at over 80 percent.


Robert Foster, of the NBA, said "one of the reasons for the heavy emphasis on dairy bull semen is a return at last to less unsustainable milk prices coupled with a shorter life within the herd for each cow. Because of this and because Holstein cows have longer lactations, they now need to produce two calves to replace themselves.


"In addition, TB is reported to be taking almost 1,000 UK dairy cows a week out of the system. The pressure from these two factors impacts on replacement heifer supplies and is not expected to ease in the medium term," Foster added.


It is likely that beef cross calves may soon become even scarcer and even more expensive, Foster said. This means cheaper Holstein bull calves may emerge as an essential substitute.


Grains are also expected to be significantly cheaper throughout the 2008-2009 season.

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