Improving the value of bull calves

Published 27 October 16

During times of low milk prices, the importance of the sale of male calves as an alternative source of cash can become more pronounced. Due to the development of native breed schemes, such as Aberdeen Angus and Hereford, beef has helped create an opportunity for dairy producers to use more native breed genetics in their breeding decisions.

 Calf prices graph 1 Oct 2016

Comparing calf prices shows Holstein/Friesian cross bull calves achieved a price of between £40-£60/head, on average, between 2010 and 2015. Over the same period, Hereford Cross bull calves achieved a price of £165-£210/head. This means that Hereford calves achieved a premium of £135/head, on average, over their black and white counterparts.

Over the last 12 months, this premium has reached £150/head, driven by lower dairy bull calf prices and higher Hereford calf prices.

Calf prices graph 2 Oct 2016 

The price premium has increased significantly since the middle of 2011. However, it is worth noting that this premium relies on continued demand from the beef sector and with further increases in numbers of native breed animals in the supply chain, may result in erosion of this premium should demand fail to keep pace.