Friday, 08 April 2022 06:55

Bobbies must enter a value stream - co-op

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
William Morrison William Morrison

A Fonterra directive that non-replacement calves from supplying farms enter a value stream from next year is a bold move, says William Morrison, Morrison Farming.

He says while the co-operative must be commended for the move, they will need support from the industry to eliminate euthanisation of calves on farm.

"There will need to be support from all in the industry, regardless of whether the output is higher value dairy-beef animals or better bobby calves," Morrison told Dairy News.

"Fonterra have shown leadership and the value chain - the meat companies, the beef bull breeders, the rearers and growers - need to have options that work for dairy farmers."

Last month Fonterra group director Farm Source, Richard Allen, informed farmers that from June 1 2023, they must ensure all their non-replacement calves enter a value stream - beef, calf-veal or petfood.

"We understand sale options in parts of New Zealand are currenty limited, which is why we're actively collaborating with the wider industry, investing in R&D and exploring long-term solutions such as dairy-beef partnerships and opportunities," says Allen.

"While the majority of farmers won't need to alter their current practices as a result of this change, we know that for some it will be a challenge.

"This is why we are letting you know about this change one season before it comes into effect, allowing time to assess options and plan any changes to current management practices, including for those with autumn-calving herds."

Allen says the co-op is proud that Fonterra farmers are already world leaders when it comes to animal wellbeing.

"As part of our strategic choice to lead in sustainability, Fonterra places a strong emphasis on calf wellbeing and a big part of this is ensuring that all dairy calves have a useful life," Allen told farmers.

Morrison says Fonterra's policy is a step toward "no bobbies".

He says while this step alone probably doesn't do much for NZ sustainability credentials. It does indicate to dairy farmers, meat companies and bull suppliers where they are heading.

"With ever increasing consumer scrutinisation, the dairy company who can hold their hand up and say 'no bobbies' will have a big opportunithy in the highest quality, highest value markets.

"The ones that can't could be left behind."

Morrison notes that there are many dairy farmers who have successfully moved to no bobbies.

He says consumer perceptions and market signals would indicate that the opportunity is for companies, who can hold their hand up and say the same.

"Their opportunity is the social license to do business in the highest range of high value markets.

"Back on-farm, improving four-day-old calf sales, or dairy-beef weaner sales, by using Ezicalve bulls, is a good option," Morrison told Dairy News.

Quiet Bulls

Ezicalve bull breeding business was established 70 years ago by Morrison and Cranstone families.

The company's focus has always been high calving ease for calves that grow fast and can finish before their second winter.

William Morrison says genetic selection for shorter gestation length has become more important.

He says Ezicalve bulls are used in all regions of New Zealand.

"All Ezicalve bulls are guaranteed quiet. Dairy farmers benefit by promoting these calves are sired by Ezicalve bulls and this is always well recognised by the market," he says.

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