Milk Prices to Play Role in Dairy Herd’s Impact on Beef

UK - How beef supply is affected by UK dairy farming in the future will hinge partly on how dairy farms can deal with market volatility.
calendar icon 22 May 2015
clock icon 2 minute read

Milk markets are now more volatile and this seems “set to continue”, which could limit the future supply of beef coming from the dairy herd, according to the latest EBLEX insight.

In the article Life after milk quotas for the UK beef industry, EBLEX intimated how the processor price cuts could have knocked confidence from the market.

Last year, farmer intention surveys showed 33 per cent of producers were looking to expand their milk output.

And despite milk prices being "pretty dire", Nick Everington, chief executive at the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, expects expansion to continue.

He told TheDairySite that RABDF concerns centred on redressing the supply and demand balance and ensuring there was a market for milk produced.

“I’m not saying people aren’t growing – they’re taking a rain check at the moment,” said Mr Everington. “It’s a pretty delicate situation at the moment but herd size is going to grow.”

He said farmers can weather the storm with sound calf rearing protocols for cows with longevity and productivity and by maximising milk price through optimising components.

He wants to see the next generation of cheeses and yoghurts come onto the market.

"The RABDF message is for producers to think carefully about where their product is going – communication with processors is vital," he concluded.

In its analysis, EBLEX drew attention to the potential role of sexed semen in maximising dairy returns.

By prioritising high yielding dairy heifer genetics on the most productive animals, the lower percentiles can then be freed up for beef cross breeding programmes, explained Steve Dunkley EBLEX regional manager for the North East region.

He told TheDairySite that a growing proportion of beef is coming from the dairy segment - Defra figures from last year show the dairy herd is already expanding.

“I think one option is for more sexed semen weighted towards replacing heifers, this frees up cows that can be inseminated with beef genetics,” said Mr Dunkley.

“I think what will happen with quotas gone is expansion. But we don’t want more and more black and white bull calves – we need a market for them.”

Further afield, EBLEX sees other member state dairy expansion as a potential threat to beef production, particularly in Ireland.

“This will likely further reduce beef cow numbers there and, hence, the availability of Irish prime beef on the British market in the longer term,” EBLEX concluded.

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms

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