Whatever jitters there were pre-Christmas and pre-Brexit deal, sentiment in the beef sector has been positive so far in 2021. This is best seen around the mart ring with calf sales demanding very high prices. Good news for the farmer selling but what about the farmer buying? This week, Declan Marren goes through some of the budgets that he’s using for the Thrive programme in 2021.

Regardless of the price of calves, calf health is paramount as a dead calf is no good to anyone. Also, veterinary surgeon Donal Lynch gives a rundown of his five tips for keeping calves healthy this spring. Of course, spring 2021 is going to bring extra challenges with COVID-19 case numbers still very high. It’s not just calves that need protecting this spring – farmers and those around them will need to keep safe.

In relation to feeding calves, we have our ever-popular calf milk replacer price and specification table. This table has grown in size dramatically over the years and is a reflection of the amount of activity in the calf milk replacer market. Prices for milk replacer are largely stable, showing a relatively small increase on last year.

There is good news too, with details of the new TAMS II grant aid for calf-rearing equipment. While the new measure will have no effect on the 2021 calf season it can be used to help with investments for next year. However, there is disappointment among farmers that it is limited to large ticket items such as computerised calf feeders and milk carts with mixers.

Finally, can I wish all our readers a safe calving season. Whether you’re calving the cow or rearing the calf it’s a busy time of year. Don’t forget to eat well and sleep well. We will have part two of this calf focus in next week’s Irish Farmers Journal.