The British Friesian is a small-framed, healthy, fertile, and resilient breed, whose cattle is renowned for being easy care, grazing specialists. Although the British Friesian is, first and foremost, a dairy breed, males are also highly regarded as producers of high quality, lean meat, whether they are crossed with a beef breed or not. Beef cross heifers are also highly sought after as an ideal suckler dam replacement.
With the simple rule of supply and demand, Friesian bull calf prices experienced a positive bump due to the low numbers entering marts. This has resulted in the lighter calf, that is more suitable for export, being a little more expensive in terms of the calf trade at recent sales. Some marts are seeing these exportable Friesian calves fetch up to €100/head – whereas in previous weeks, these would have been topped at €60-80/head. The export clients are also seemingly holding a good floor under the lighter and traditionally-bred calves – however their target currently seems to be focused more on Angus calves. This week Agriland takes a look at recent calf sales held at Bandon and Carrigallen Marts.
Holsteins have distinctive markings, usually black and white or red and white in colour, typically exhibiting piebald patterns. On rare occasions, some have both black and red colouring with white. Red factor causes this unique colouring. ‘Blue’ is also a known colour. This colour is produced by white hairs mixed with the black hairs giving the cow a bluish tint. This colouring is also known as ‘blue roan’ in some farm circles. They are famed for their high dairy production, averaging 22,530 pounds (10,220 kg) of milk per year. Of this milk, 858 pounds (3.7%) are butterfat and 719 pounds (3.1%) are protein.
A healthy calf weighs 40 to 50 kg (75–110 lb) or more at birth. A mature Holstein cow typically weighs 680–770 kg (1500–1700 lb), and stands 145–165 cm (58–65 in) tall at the shoulder. Holstein heifers should be bred by 11 to 14 months of age, when they weigh 317–340 kg (700–750 lb) or 55% of adult weight. Generally, breeders plan for Holstein heifers to calve for the first time between 21 and 24 months of age and 80% of adult bodyweight. The gestation period is about nine and a half months.
As indicated already, there are a range of production options using the early born Holstein-Friesian bulls. These can range from slaughtering at under 8-months of age (veal production), to 12 month cereal beef (barley beef), to 15, 18, 21 or 24 month slaughtering. Bull age can be a discriminating factor depending on the export market. High priced European markets tend towards bulls which are under 16 months. This paper summarises Holstein- Friesian dairy bull production systems at 12, 15 and 18 months of age. A steer beef production system, at 24 months of age, is also summarised.
Friesian Bull Calf Prices
$300 – $900 per head