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Bobby calf slaughter drops due to strong beef prices, dairy industry says

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A farm within the coronary heart of northern Victoria’s dairy nation goes towards custom in the case of bobby calves.

How Now dairy founder Cathy Palmer stated her purpose was to supply moral milk, the place cows and calves are stored collectively, when she launched the enterprise 5 years in the past.

“I went and noticed numerous dairies earlier than I began this, and I might simply see sheds of new child calves,” Ms Palmer stated.

“I could not perceive the reasoning, I made a decision to supply an alternative choice to that.

“My herd usually sits at 50 cows, and no calf is separated from their mum, and the cows are very joyful and our mortality charge could be very low.”

A woman and dog stand in a paddock with cows
Ms Palmer leases land from native dairy farmers and sells direct to market.(ABC Rural: Annie Brown)

Ms Palmer’s herd is a mixture of totally different breeds, with every cow producing on common 10 litres per milking.

Dairy Australia’s most up-to-date information reveals the common Australian dairy cow produces about 20 litres per milking.

Ms Palmer sells dairy merchandise direct to market to predominantly Melbourne prospects. How Now milk retails at $6.50 for two litres.

“I believe that’s nonetheless discount basement for milk,” Ms Palmer stated.

“It will get me how I see individuals shopping for free vary hen, pasture raised beef, pure juice after which get to the milk and so they simply seize the $1 a litre off the shelf.”

However she stated demand was rising for her product and gross sales had steadily risen.

“I’m actually keen about dairying and I do not assume individuals needs to be basing themselves on plant-based milks,” she stated.

Slaughter charges dropping

It is not uncommon apply on the bulk Australian dairy farms for calves to be separated from cows inside 24 hours of start.

Two brown and whtie speckled calves
Dairy cows should calve with a purpose to produce milk.(ABC Rural: Annie Brown)

The calves are then taken to rearing facility or one other shed and fed milk by farmers.

A share of feminine calves will keep on farm for use as alternative heifers, and the remaining change into surplus and are used for beef manufacturing.

Calves underneath 30 days previous are often known as bobby calves and have to be at the least 5 days previous earlier than they go away the farm.

Dairy Australia animal welfare nationwide lead Sarah Bolton stated the variety of bobby calves going to slaughter in Australia was dropping.

A cow sniffing a fence post
Extra farmers are conserving bobby calves on farm longer.(ABC Rural: Annie Brown)

“Increasingly dairy farms want to improve the variety of calves raised for mature beef manufacturing, versus slaughtering them as bobby calves,” Dr Bolton stated.

“For the 2021 monetary yr, slightly below 300,000 calves had been processed at 5 days of age.

She stated the highest quantity prior to now 10 years or so had been about 450,000.

“Given we’ve got been in a document beef value surroundings, we expect that there can be a document low (of bobby calves slaughtered) for the monetary yr simply gone.”

Separating calves and cows

Dr Bolton, who can be a veterinarian, stated there have been a number of key causes to separate calves and cows quickly after start.

A calf drinks from a water trough
 It is common apply on dairy farms to separate calves and cows at start(ABC Rural: Annie Brown)

“The primary is the administration of colostrum,” Dr Bolton stated.

“Dairy calves are born and not using a functioning immune system and depend on their first milk, which we name colostrum, to obtain their immune system.”

She stated information confirmed that if left to suckle the cow on their very own, at the least 40 per cent of calves would not get sufficient, which left them with out an ample immune system.

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Dairy farmers use rum by-product to extend milk manufacturing(Michael Rennie)

Dr Bolton stated the business was at all times trying on the concern of calf and cow separation and formative years slaughter as public values developed.

“The apply of culling calves at 5 days of age hasn’t been undertaken as a result of dairy farmers wish to, or as a result of it is notably interesting for anybody,” she stated.

“It has been largely motivated by the very fact these calves have traditionally not been seen as economically viable for beef manufacturing because of their genetics being chosen for milk manufacturing.

“Nonetheless we additionally do numerous social science work to try to perceive what practices are out of step now or could possibly be out of step sooner or later as values evolve.”