Calls for dairy system change to remove the 'worthless bull-calf issue’


The group has suggested examining the feasibility of Irish-based rosé-veal farming

Calls for dairy system change to remove the 'worthless bull-calf issue’

  • ADDED
  • 6 days ago

The group has suggested examining the feasibility of Irish-based rosé-veal farming

The removal of the production of “near-worthless” calves on all dairy farms should be a priority, according to Regenerative Farming Ireland (RFI).

The group – which has laid out its own vision by publishing a report entitled Farm-2-Fork 2030 - believes that the following needs to be undertaken in order for this to occur;

  • Re-assessing the economics of dairying that produces higher-quality milk and beef calves;

  • Switching to using dual-purpose cows and/or such breeds to avoid the “poor-calf problem”;

  • Establishing a domestic rose-veal sector, albeit this "may need more regular calf supplies".

It is proposing the following action in its report:

  • Determine the extent to which technology can “guarantee only calves-with-value are born”;

  • Reassess milk production in the context of “reducing the seasonal veal-type dairy-calf glut”;

  • Examine the feasibility of Irish-based rosé-veal farming and what is needed to catalyse it;

  • Evaluate the potential for switching to the dairy breeds with dual-purpose characteristics;

  • Reconsider beef farming in the context of producing premium-to-the-consumer products.

'Little to no value'

The case of pure-bred bull calves from dairy cows was mentioned [earlier in the report] with respect to their export for veal production elsewhere. In a worst-case scenario, they have little to no value.

“This inevitably leads to welfare issues, albeit many farmers will still put welfare above economics.”

“It is a choice that they should not be having to make.” the group stated.

“While the use of sexed semen to ensure that only pure-bred dairy heifers are born is one solution, dairy system change should be encouraged to totally remove the worthless bull-calf issue.” the report stated.

Interests of the family farm

RFI was founded by Stuart Meikle, Suzanna Crampton, Dr. Peter Dunne, James Foley and Dr. Pippa Hackett.

RFI has stated that it has no aspirations towards being another lobby organisation; however, it will be "vocal in promoting the interests of the family farm".

Its primary focus is and will be upon identifying, analysing, promoting and supporting the application of solutions.

RFI is about supporting;

  • Knowledge transfer and the exchange of new ideas between farmers;

  • Farmer-led and practitioner-focused innovation and experimentation;

  • Producers to enhance food supplies and minimise their eco-footprint;

  • Creators and producers of regenerative-origin terroir-rooted produce;

  • Processor-farmer supply-chain relationships that link farm to product;

  • Route to market developments for regeneratively-produced products;

  • Farmer and processor and consumer communications and interaction.

RFI has stated that it has no aspirations towards being another lobby organisation; however, it will be "vocal in promoting the interests of the family farm".

Its primary focus is and will be upon identifying, analysing, promoting and supporting the application of solutions.

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