Meatingplace, By Tom Johnston |
Advancing technology and breeding practices in dairies have produced more calves to the benefit of the beef industry in the form of more Prime and Choice grade product, a development that can be more mutually beneficial when beef and dairy producers bridge the economic, business and cultural gaps between the two industries, according to the new RaboResearch report, “Dairy Calves Get a Beef Makeover.”
The development comes as dairies increasingly breed a share of their cows with beef-breed bulls to diversify their income streams. Using genetic selection enables dairies to be much more efficient in developing desired herd replacements. Moreover, the crossbred cattle are creating high-quality carcasses desired by meat processors.
“Careful management and experience are driving success, and performance is starting to explode, as the industry improves its understanding of the best genetic matches and how to manage and feed beef-on-dairy calves,” said report author, Don Close, senior animal protein analyst with Rabo AgriFinance, in a news release. “But, the relationships between buyers and sellers will be crucial.”
The report notes existing gaps between dairy producers and cattle feeders in their opinions on breeding goals and management, as well as on pricing.
“Success will require cattle feeders and dairy producers to form relationships and communicate expectations,” Close says. “I expect the supply of beef-on-dairy calves to increase significantly in 2020 and continue to climb over the next three to five years to a level where more than 10% of cattle in U.S. feed yards will be beef-on-dairy crosses.”
The report also notes the sustainability benefits of the changes.
As Close explains, “Compared to conventional dairy calves, beef-on-dairy animals are more efficient feed converters, reach full weight three to four months earlier, and have a higher percentage of red meat yield. This system reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the cattle industry.”