Dawn Meats embarks on young bull project

Dawn Meats has outlined a plan to make bull calves from Irish dairy herds more marketable and shore up the Irish meat industry.

The project will see Dawn buy bulls, which will be reared up to the age of 15 to 16 months by Irish farmers for slaughter as young bull beef.

At the moment, some 320,000 males from Irish dairy herds are exported to countries including the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Belgium to be used for veal or young beef. Dawn Meats group development manager Paul Nolan said this was taking profit opportunities out of the Irish market.

At the Dawn Meats and Teagasc Open Day in Co Wexford this month, 500 beef and dairy farmers were introduced to the proposed programme, due to start in 2011.

Dawn will now inspect the premises of farmers who have expressed an interest, and plans to buy its first week-old Holstein dairy bull calves in February 2011. There were no targets in terms of number of heads, but the project would be fairly large-scale, Nolan added.

The programme would run over a few seasons to help rearers build up their businesses for the long term, and leave a legacy for the meat industry in a new market sector, he said. The selected rearers and finishers would be required to sign up to a pre-agreed fee, which would include bonus payments for reaching set targets during the process.

Niall Browne, Dawn Meats CEO, told the audience at Co Wexford that this programme might well prove key to adding much-needed value to Ireland's exports from the food sector in the future.

>>Change in attitude to dairy calves

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