Hereford breeders are coming to the aid of Victorian dairy farmers in crisis through a beef bull aid project.
Under the project, co-ordinated by Igniting Change and Elders Bendigo, up to 100 Hereford bulls are needed for distribution to needy dairy farmers in the Campaspe and Loddon shires.
Dr Charles Lane, of Igniting Change, said the Hereford cross calves would bring four times the return on pure dairy calves, offering additional income for farmers.
“Faced with low milk process and mounting debt, dairy farmers are under enormous psychological stress – some are walking off while others are depressed,’’ Dr Lane said.
“Igniting Change has been working in the area for some years by providing counselling, the payment of household utilities and the delivery of food aid.
“But, it would be better if farmers could be helped to trade out of their difficulties.’’
Dr Lane said milk companies would invite farmers to apply for donated bulls, which would be distributed on a needs basis.
Elders Bendigo will manage the project, co-ordinate activities at no cost, and draw up contracts between bull providers and dairy farmers.
It is proposed that:
- Hereford breeders will agree to provide healthy, sound bulls, fit for purpose.
- Dairy farmers will agree to look after bulls by providing adequate fodder and veterinary care for ailments and injuries.
- If a bull breaks down, Elders will nominate and deliver animal to saleyard or abattoir. Any causes of deaths will be recorded and notified.
- Dairy farmers will agree to sell all bulls after two years, and provide data on the number and breed of cows joined, number of calves born, age and price received on sale of calf.
- Proceeds from the sale will be remitted to the Hereford breeder.
- Igniting Change and Elders will arrange free transport of bulls from breeders to farmers, record bull identities and destination farm data, sell bulls after two years at special ‘feature sale’, and provide comparative sale data with dairy calves.
Dr Lane said dairy farmers saw the project as a means to improving their financial position and trading out of difficulties.
Herefords Australia chief executive officer Dr Alex Ball said members had already shown interest in offering affected dairy farmers a helping hand by donating bulls.
Dr. Ball said Herefords Australia considered the beef bull aid project as worthwhile in the light of dairy producers dealing with drought and low commodity prices across recent years.
Seventy per cent of New Zealand’s beef production originates from the dairy industry, with Hereford bulls highly sought after for their temperament, weight gain and doability.
Dr Ball said the use of Hereford bulls with high estimated breeding values for calving ease, early growth and carcase characteristics would provide surplus calves of higher value to dairy farmers, beef finishers and processors.
He said calving ease, marketability of the progeny and gestation length were the key drivers for the dairy industry, while carcase weight and eating quality was a primary need of the beef industry.
“Herefords are the breed which can deliver in both areas,’’ he said.
Hereford breeders interested in providing bulls to the project can contact Herefords Australia on 02 6772 1399.
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