No reason found for rise in bobby calf kill
New Zealand’s bobby calf kill was up nearly 10 per cent this spring compared to last year, just when beef prices look headed for a sustained pick up.
There seems to be no one reason for the significant rise in unwanted calves sent for processing, as reported to Beef + Lamb NZ by the country’s meat companies.
Industry observers attribute the increase to anything from a 1.7 per cent or 90,000-head increase in the national dairy calving herd this season, to dairy farmers’ need for more cash in a sharply lower payout year, to increased competition in the calf processing sector pushing prices higher.
Beef+ Lamb economist Rob Davison said 2.07 million calves were culled in the year ended September, up 9.8 per cent on the comparable period last year, and beating his industry organisation’s 1.98 million.
The calf kill was up 12.5 per cent in the South Island on last season and up 8 per cent in the North Island, Davison said.
The number of dairy cows which calved this season rose by an estimated 90,000 cows to 5.09 million. But industry observers said that did not fully explain the jump in calves sent to meat processors, especially when beef returns have improved.