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New Teagasc Contract Calf and Weanling Rearing Agreements

There is growing interest in contract arrangements between farmers to rear calves and other young cattle. Teagasc has responded by developing new contract agreement templates.

New Teagasc Contract Calf and Weanling Rearing Agreements

With growing dairy herds, many dairy farmers are now beginning to encounter difficulties in sourcing high quality skilled labour. Also the lack of available lands to lease/purchase, and in cases limited or inadequate calf/heifer rearing facilities, is leading to more dairy farmers looking to outsource the rearing of calves through contract rearing agreements.

In other farming enterprises, poor and volatile market prices have resulted in poor profitability of other main farming enterprises. This has paved the way for increased opportunity for contract calf, and/or weanling, rearing arrangements to be formed in the upcoming years.

Teagasc in conjunction with Diarmaid O Cathain, Solicitor, Ben Roche, Collaborative Farming Consultant and Gordon Peppard, Teagasc Collaborative Farming Specialist have developed two key contract rearing template agreements.

1 - Contract Calf Rearing Agreement

This template agreement provides for the contract rearing for calves greater than 10 days old up to weaning. It is predominantly intended for, but not restricted to, the rearing of bull calves from the dairy herd.

In removing bull calves from the dairy herd at 10+ days of age from the dairy farm, it removes the need for additional facilities and labour requirement to deal with these animals. With very compact six week calving rates now on dairy farms, the numbers of calves can be very significant if all male and female calves have to be held for four weeks, or longer, before they are moved on.

At the end of the rearing period the calves can be retained on the contract rearing farm, returned to the dairy farm, or sold to a third party.

2 - Contract Calf and Weanling Rearing Agreement

Similar to the contract calf rearing template agreement this agreement outlines that the calves, once weaned, will remain on the contract rearer’s holding for an additional period for further rearing. The length of this additional period is agreed between the animal owner and the contract rearer in advance.

During the rearing period the animal owner pays an agreed fee per head, per day, to the contract rearer and the animal owner retains ownership of the animals at the end of the rearing period.

There are four key areas to be addressed during the formation of these agreements.

1. Outline - Animal owner and contract rearer’s details.

2. Duration – Establish the commencement and end date of the agreement.

3. Payment – agreed payment rate per head per day and decide on method of payment.

4. Terms and conditions – establish a management protocol of the animals for the duration of the agreement.

Gordon Peppard, Teagasc Collaborative Farming Specialist said: “These agreements provide an excellent opportunity for non-dairy farming enterprises to devise a different system of production, in the knowledge that in return for a good performance of the contract reared stock that they will be rewarded for their land, labour, facilities and management through a pre agreed monetary rate per head per day. This allows them to better plan their cash flow, and they are not dependant on the sale of stock on two, or three, main selling days in the year. For the dairy farmer, they have the advantage of removing a number of animals from their holding at an early age, reducing the need for additional facilities, labour etc. and providing them the opportunity to allocate more time and resources to the main cow herd.”

The Teagasc Contract Calf Rearing and Calf and Weanling Rearing agreements can be found on the Teagasc public website at https://www.teagasc.ie/rural-economy/farm-management/collaborative-farming/