Dairy beef calves: This week’s Focus section is on calves and calf rearing. Some farmers are contemplating a system switch to dairy calf to beef, however margins need to be looked at closely.

While dairy-cross calves are cheap to get into, they can be expensive to bring to finish.

Margins are tight and efficiency levels need to be high. Do the sums before purchase and see what you can afford to pay for a calf.

Current calf prices seem high for a beef farmer to make any money. E

arly calf sales in the south have started strong, with reports of AAX and HEX heifer calves making in excess of €350/head at some marts.

While prices in early January are always high, it is impossible to say what the average price for calves will be this year. The calf export trade looks to be off to a positive start.

Before you commit, it is vital that you do a budget. Most systems require about €750 to €900 in working capital per head from purchase to slaughter, so budget carefully. Work out how much you can afford to pay for a calf and if they are too expensive, hold off buying. As more and more calves come out, prices will fall, so don’t panic buy.

ICBF Genetic Evaluations updated: The ICBF updated its genetic evaluations on Tuesday. The ICBF Animal Search, Active Bull Lists and Stock Bull Finder will all be updated. Farmers subscribed to the HerdPlus service will be able to view their animals’ January evaluation figures through the various online profiles. Further updates to the indices will take place in March, May, July, September and November.

Irish Farmers Journal Spring Webinar Series: Our live spring webinar series on farmersjournal.ie will cover a wide range of topics across dairy, beef and sheep systems over the next few months. It kicks off on Wednesday 2 February at 8pm with “Calving the cow and care of the newborn calf”.

The Irish Farmers Journal Livestock team will take a look at management before calving and the calving process including malpresentations and difficult calvings on both beef and dairy farms.

We will then discuss looking after that newborn calf in the first few weeks of life to make sure it gets the best possible start.

The aim of the webinar is to be as live and interactive as possible, with farmer questions directing the discussion.

Tullamore Farm vet Donal Lynch will join us on the webinar to answer any questions that dairy or beef farmers may have ahead of calving.

Participants can log on to farmersjournal.ie at 8pm on 2 February and questions can be submitted to the speakers via Zoom on the night, WhatsApp on 086-836 6465 or email on ifjwebinar@farmersjornal.ie.

If there are topics you would like to see covered on the night or during the spring webinar series drop me an email at awoods@farmersjournal.ie