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Contract Rearing of Replacement Heifers

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What is contract rearing?

Contract rearing involves the movement of replacement heifers from the owner’s farm for rearing on contract by another farmer.

Since the abolishment of milk quotas in 2015 milk production has increased significantly. This has put limitations on the availability of land around milking parlours, farmyard facilities and labour. Therefore an increasing number of dairy farmers will look engage other farmers to rear their replacement heifers for them. This will release land on the dairy farm for milk production, provide more facilities and labour.

What makes contract rearing attractive to dairy farmers?

In addition to releasing land for milk production:

  • It could free up labour to specialise more on dairying;
  • It would suit farms where accommodation is limiting;
  • It could suit farms where heifers are failing to achieve the performance levels required.

What makes contract rearing attractive to rearers?

  • It could provide a steady monthly cash flow;
  • The business risks associated with drystock production are reduced;
  • It is potentially more profitable;
  • The demands of buying and selling are diminished or eliminated.

What information is available?

Teagasc has prepared a number of documents to support parties interested in the contract rearing of replacement heifers.

  • Some more detailed guidelines are contained in the Teagasc booklet “”. This document contains details regarding target liveweights, guideline costings, and advice on the risks involved and disease control.
  • Specimen heifer rearing contracts. Two documents have been prepared and are available online.