How to Make Contract Rearing a Success


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Teagasc Drystock advisor in Moorepark, Michael Bourke, joins Stuart Childs on this week’s Dairy Edge podcast to discuss how he views contract rearing from a drystock and dairy farmer’s point of view. Michael has nearly 15 years’ experience in setting up contract rearing arrangements.

Michael first explains that while getting the price right in terms of what is paid per head per day is important, the success of contract rearing arrangements is very much about the relationship between both parties which needs to be based on trust from the start.

Both parties have a role to play in the relationship, with dairy farmers needing to deliver a healthy, on-target weight animal on day one and the contract rearer taking on the baton at this stage until they return the animal at whatever stage is agreed in the condition and weight expected.

Michael says that dairy farmers know the rise in costs in 2022 and that they need to be aware that their contract rearers’ costs have increased also and that they may need to factor that into the price being paid currently.

But equally, drystock farmers need also to be flexible so that if costs drop, the charge reflects that too with the return being maintained being the ultimate objective.

Good relationships between the dairy farmer and the rearer are important to having these conversations.

Finally, Michael encourages dairy farmers to work out their own costs of rearing their heifers and suggests that following this exercise, they will truly see the value in contract rearing.

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