Friday, 08 April 2022 09:55

Why dairy beef value chains are important

Written by  Staff Reporters
First Light Wagyu calf First Light Wagyu calf

With pressure growing on the farming industry to minimise wastage, reduce omissions and develop sustainable practices, many dairy farmers are now proactively looking for opportunities to optimise their herd and derive complementary income through involvement in a dairy beef value chain, says First Light Wagyu.

First Light's Wagyu business has been operating since 2011 and is looking to add more dairy farmers to its established value chain of dairy farmers, calf rearers, store farmers and grazers, and finishing farmers.

It says interested dairy farmers will be those that want to be linked to a premium market for their product, and who seek multi-year arrangements. Interested in farming some of their dairy beef progeny on, they want the assurance that their progeny will be purchased when ready.

"While this role had been contracted out to LIC for the past few years, First Light - a key player in the premium beef sector - is now offering dairy farmers the chance to build a direct relationship with them," it says.

This will enable a full value chain to operate from genetics to consumer providing marketing, product integrity and price advantages.

Traditionally dairy farmers have been offered either 7-day-old calf or 95kg weaned contracts. Being part of the First Light value chain opens new doors for farmers with 8-month, 15-20 month and breed to finish options, as well as access to market pool returns giving farmers multiple choices and the flexibility to meet their needs and optimise their farm operations.

It says this opportunity is open to new farmers, as well as existing First Light dairy farm suppliers.

The range of contracts offered means the dairy farmer can choose to breed more of their herd with First Light across the range of options and make First Light Wagyu their preferred beef breed across their herd.

First Light will supply insemination straws directly for breeding Wagyu X Dairy calves. The semen will arrive in banks for inserting by the farmer's AI technician. First Light will provide both the technical and on farm calf support, and all communication will be direct with First Light, who believe that face-to-fae, boots on the ground communication is key to a successful dairy beef value chain.

"Communication aside, for most farmers, income assurance is top of mind," says First Light.

"Knowing the projected income for the upcoming season is critical to a farm's operations and herd management plans."

The market for First Light Wagyu beef is set three years in advance and as a result, First Light's pricing and demand is locked in well prior to mating.

First Light says its value chain is also unique within the dairy beef sector given it is for mixed sex progeny, with a preference for progeny from cross-bred cows (F6 to F12).

This provides a bonus for dairy farmers in ensuring they are not left with unwanted heifer calves or off-colour calves that have been historically of little or no value.

A Wagyu calf is generally smaller than other beef breeds which typically means easier calving and less stress on the cow and the farmer. Duncan and Nicky Anderson from Culvenden believe they have found the right fit for their farming business.

"After having problems with traditional beef breeds, First Light Black Wagyu have been a success for our dairy cows, enabling them to calve with ease and recover wells," the Andersons says.

"Decreasing wastage with more progeny in a value-add stream has also enhanced returns within our business. We enjoy being involved with an organisation who have built a niche market and who value us as suppliers."

Many of First Light's existing dairy farmer suppliers are using Wagyu as part of a sexed semen programme, where the best genetic merit cows are selected for producing heifer replacements, and the balance of the herd is mated with Wagy and potentially a follow up beef breed. 

0800 4 Wagyu (0800 4 92498)

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