Is it worth fattening culls?
"Putting weight on dry OTM cows is unlikely to
pay unless the cows are at grass," Mr Bertholdt
told farmers at a recent Grassland Challenge seminar on the
ending of the Over Thirty Months scheme (OTM).
Nik Bertholdt of Duchy College believed that if cows could
be fattened while milking, the milk income could pay for the
maintenance portion of the ration and could be more economic.
He strongly advised farmers to do their own calculation of
the profitability of fattening cull cows and if it is not
profitable to fatten the cows to get them off the farm ASAP,
don't worry about the price.
At a price of 88 pence per kilo of dead weight, with a killing
out at 40%, each kilo of live-weight is worth 35p/kg. Yet
it can cost 24-39 pence for pasture to put that kilo of live-weight
on a dry cow. If the dead weight price is increased to 120p/kg
and the killing out percentage is increased to 50%, each kilo
of live-weight is then worth 60 pence.
Other scenarios that Mr Bertholdt discussed at the seminar
included the profitability of putting weight on lactating
cows, using silage and straights and where the weight gain
lifts the whole carcass up a class/grade. Labour, manure handling,
housing space and additional abattoir charges all need to
be considered when deciding whether to fatten cull cows. Mr
Bertholdts' final comments to the seminar were:
"Have you really got the time and the space to run another
group of fattening cows?"
Mr Bayliss of CQLP said that abattoirs would be looking
for well conformed and fleshed suckler and dairy cows and
all stock would have to be beef farm assured, but as yet there
were few contracts being offered. He thought that in the short
term returns were unlikely to be better than the OTMS scheme
and advised farmers to watch for market developments as these
could be rapid and volatile.
The re-opening of export markets for over thirty month beef
would be critical for the price offered to farmers for their
OTM cows. "Beef consumption in the UK has been increasing
since 1986 and there is potential for OTM beef to replace
both imported beef and some UK bred prime beef," said
Duncan Sinclair, giving an over view of the market for EBLEX.
He also pointed out that OTM beef could now be imported from
CQLP, EBLEX and Grassland Challenge are hosting a further
evening seminar to discuss the opportunities following the
changes to the OTMS on Tuesday 13 December 2005 at the Crossroads
Lodge, Scorrier, Redruth. Peter Bayliss, general manager of
Cornwall Quality Livestock Producers will discuss the market
for older beef in light of the restructuring of the OTMS,
including farm assurance requirements, demand and outlets.
He will also discuss the buyer's view, outlining the
requirements of the abattoir sector for cows. Nik Bertholdt,
Duchy College, will consider the nutritional requirements
and the economics of finishing cows to achieve market requirements.
This will be followed by an open discussion with the panel.
A buffet supper will be provided.
For further information please contact Paul Ward, project
manager at Grassland Challenge on 01579 372315.
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly has invested in the Grassland Challenge project
through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund
Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and
land based industries project is advised to speak with Maria
Ford, at Government Office South West - 01752 635015 - before
commencing development as there are now only limited funds
available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural
sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Grassland Challenge is a partnership project led by Duchy
College on behalf of the Cornish Grassland Societies in association
with the Institute of Grassland & Environmental Research
(IGER), aiming to improve the competitiveness of grassland
and forage producers in Cornwall through technology transfer
and dissemination of best practice. This project is part financed
by Objective One European Agricultural Guidance & Guarantee
Fund (EAGGF) & Defra.
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439