Economist calls beef-on-dairy “megatrend”

An economist says raising beef calves from dairy cows started small but has become a megatrend.  Corey Geiger with CoBank tells Brownfield raising beef calves has become the second-highest revenue stream for many dairy producers. “The estimate way back in 2016 was there was probably 200- thousand of these beef-dairy cross calves, and it has really exploded quite frankly. Cattlefax estimates there are now 2.6 million beef-on-dairy cross calves that were born this year.”

Geiger says the rapid adoption of beef-on-dairy is one of a trio of changes creating a win-win-win for producers. “The triple play started with sexed semen, and that first came in the marketplace in 2003, but there weren’t many early adopters on it because a lot of the bulls available weren’t high-end genetics. And then genomics came on the scene in 2008, and lot more commercial dairies are doing that as well.”

He says a million calves a year are being tested now in a nine-million dairy cow herd, so the introduction of genomics has led to substantial growth for beef-on-dairy.

Geiger says the beef-dairy cross calves also have better feed efficiency and deliver more value at harvest time. “They’re from the higher-end genetics in the beef sector, so we’re going to get a really consistent product here, and you can probably hewn in on feeding them better and so, there’s a lot of science that can be worked into this yet.”

Geiger says farmers can sell beef-dairy cross calves for two to three hundred dollars more than a purebred dairy animal, and he says that has helped some dairy producers’ bottom line during times of low milk prices.

For dairy producers that have not considered beef-on-dairy, Geiger says, “I think you’ve got to take a look at it.  It’s another way to capture some revenue from your barn.  The calves are vigorous and they’re in demand in the marketplace.”  He says it’s something producers need to put at the top of their list of management considerations soon, especially with strong beef demand and a smaller beef herd.

A link to CoBank’s new beef-on-dairy report can be found online here.

INTERVIEW: Corey Geiger with CoBank discusses beef on dairy with Brownfield’s Larry Lee

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