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Contract Calf Rearing

What is contract calf rearing?

There is growing interest in contract arrangements between farmers to rear calves and other young cattle. With growing dairy herds, many dairy farmers are now beginning to encounter difficulties in sourcing high quality skilled labour.

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.

What makes contract rearing attractive to dairy farmers?

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.

What makes contract rearing attractive to rearers?

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 rearing arrangements to be formed in the upcoming years.

What information is available?

Teagasc in conjunction with Diarmaid O'Cathain, Solicitor; Ben Roche, Collaborative Farming Consultant and Gordon Peppard, Teagasc Collaborative Farming Specialist have developed a contract calf rearing template 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.

View it here: Contract Calf Rearing Agreement (PDF)