Hereford bulls are proving to be a big hit with local dairy farmers.
The slump in milk prices in recent years encouraged many producers to think of adding value to the surplus calves from their dairy herds and crossing with beef breed sires has increased significantly. The biggest growth has been recorded for the Hereford breed where the number of births registered to dairy cows has doubled in the last four years.
The value of Hereford sired calves is well recognised in the market place and this has been a factor in the surge in popularity but it is the natural fertility of the breed, the short gestation and the ease of calving which makes the Hereford such a good fit for the modern dairy herd.
The considerable premiums paid for Hereford beef through the leading retailers are obviously a factor but according to David Deakin of the Hereford Cattle Society the breed’s many attributes – not least its ease of management and lower production costs are the real driver behind the resurgence.
“Herefords are delivering right along the supply chain, helping the dairy farmer in terms of improved fertility and a high value calf while the beef finisher benefits from improved feed efficiency and early maturity,” he explained.
“The processor gains from a better balanced carcass in terms of a good yield of cuts meeting the portion size and price point that customers require while consumers just enjoy the great taste and succulence of the end product.”
The Elite Hereford Breeders bull sale scheduled for this Monday in Dungannon Farmers Market will offer commercial beef and dairy farmers a good selection of quality Hereford sires from leading breeders.
Performance standards are guaranteed through the pre-sale weight for age requirements and full EBVs (estimated breeding values) are available for most of the entries.
A number of high performers are on offer including some which are eligible for the Superior Carcass Incentive. This initiative is funded by the Hereford Cattle Society and purchasers of eligible bulls can claim up to £500 on their progeny over a three year period.
The sale catalogue is available from the Mart and can be viewed on the Hereford Cattle Society website – www.herefordcattle.org under online sale catalogues.