Dairy farmers are being encouraged to consider the dual benefits of an Aberdeen-Angus sire when selecting beef bulls for their herds.
Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society breed development manager, Natalie Cormack, says Aberdeen-Angus bulls have the potential to offer premiums for dairy farmers – both on the farm and beyond the farmgate.
“Aberdeen-Angus have moderate birth weights, which is great for calving ease,” says Ms Cormack.
“They also have lower gestation lengths, which means you can get cows milking quicker and back in-calf sooner. In fact, the Aberdeen-Angus gestation length can be seven to 10 days shorter than some continental breeds.”
She says anecdotal evidence also suggests Aberdeen-Angus cross dairy calves have higher survivability rates than those sired by some other breeds commonly used in dairy herds, while offering attractive growth rates once the calves are on the ground.
“The daily liveweight gains with Aberdeen-Angus are superior to any other native breeds, so you know when you’re selling calves that they’re going to do well for whoever buys them,” adds Ms Cormack.
Beyond the farmgate, Ms Cormack says there is an attractive premium for Aberdeen-Angus cattle – something that extends to dairy cross calves provided they are good quality and sired by a registered Aberdeen-Angus bull.
“Most dairy cross calves will be getting bought by their end finisher and they will be buying them in the knowledge that so long as the sire is a registered Aberdeen-Angus bull, they can get a premium for that animal,” adds Ms Cormack.
Clive Roads, consultant with livestock auctioneers McCartneys, agrees and says there is plenty of demand for Aberdeen-Angus cross calves, including those from the dairy herd.
Mr Roads, who was previously a partner and chairman at the firm, says: “The premium in the marketplace is down to two things – quality and evidence that the calf is sired by a registered Aberdeen-Angus bull.
“If you have the combination of both these things, there’s plenty of buyers looking to buy these cattle. If finishers are getting a premium at the end, they are prepared to pay a premium in the sale ring for the right cattle.”
Ms Cormack says there are plenty of Aberdeen-Angus bulls available for dairy farmers and those wishing to find a breeder local to them, or to view catalogues for upcoming sales, can do so via the online database on the Society’s website at www.aberdeen-angus.co.uk.