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Strong demand supports rearing calf prices

Thursday, 21 May 2020

By Felicity Rusk

Bull calf prices started the year relatively stable. However, prices for all breeds have been on an upwards trajectory since the end of March. This uplift has been particularly marked in prices for native and continental breeds.

 

Reports suggest that calf quality has been high this year, while supplies have been tight which has supported market prices. However, according to latest data from BCMS, the number of births registered in the first quarter of this year was 4% (27,800 head) higher than the same period last year. We estimate* that approximately 18,500 of these additional calves would be available to the beef herd.

 

This suggests that demand for calves is strong. Several major milk buyers requested for producers to curb their milk production while others introduced lower prices for a set volume of milk produced. As such, many dairy farmers have been forced to reduce their milk production or find alternative uses for it.

One alternative use for surplus milk is feeding it to calves. As such, some dairy producers may have looked to purchase calves for the purpose of beef rearing as a method to manage milk production. Furthermore, some producers may have opted to retain calves to use for this purpose, which they may have sold in more ‘normal’ market conditions. Deadweight cattle prices have also been increasing again lately, which may also lend some confidence to the calf market.

For more information on safely feeding milk to calves, see our calf management guide.

*Excluding dairy females and 25% of beef females to act as replacements.

Felicity Rusk

Analyst - Dairy & Livestock

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