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Contract rearing – an alternative income opportunity?

With many drystock farmers looking for possible alternative income opportunities for their farms, contract heifer rearing has increasingly become an option and Teagasc advisor Tom Coll and specialist Gordon Peppard join Catherine Egan on this week’s Beef Edge podcast to discuss what’s involved.

Gordon says it is a very attractive option with a lot of benefits such as providing a steady monthly cash flow, reduced investment and reduced risks associated with beef prices with potentially more profits if managed correctly.  Gordon also discusses the contract heifer rearing agreement and outlines the costs involved for the rearer - the highest cost periods to the contract rearer will be during calf rearing and winter housing.

Tom Coll has been working with around twenty farmers that have started contract rearing on their farms over the past eight years and as a result, established a discussion group with these farmers. Tom outlines why farmers consider this as an alternative system for their farms and he emphasises that improving silage quality and maximising grass in the diet is important.  

There have been a lot of lessons learned from the farmers which Tom discusses in detail from management, health, breeding, grass and meeting targets. For contract heifer rearing to be a success it must be a win–win situation for all parties. A level of trust, honesty and flexibility must exist between parties.

Events may change and things will go wrong, so good communication and a give and take attitude are required. It is important to have a written agreement so that the responsibilities of each party are clear. Payment on time is important and fulfilling requirements set out at the start are essential. 

Further information is available at:

Contract Rearing of Replacement Heifers 

For more episodes and information covered on the Beef Edge, visit the show page at: www.teagasc.ie/thebeefedge