DAIRY farmers have been urged to place more 21-day-old native breed sired calves on to the rearing market.

The National Beef Association (NBA) said they could gain from the new push to produce large volumes of high quality, high priced beef, sired by native breed bulls, for leading supermarkets.

Chris Mallon, NBA national director, said: “The accent in the fresh beef marketis quite suddenly on the production of large numbers of grass fed steers and heifers, bred from Angus, Beef Shorthorn or Hereford bulls, that can attract retail premiums on the back of predictable provenance, taste and tenderness.”

He said Tesco is currently constructing a 2,500 head a week supply system for certified Angus cattle – the biggest seen in the UK so far – and from the beginning of April The Co-operative will be on the market for 300 Hereford cross cattle a week.

“At the same time Morrisons is looking for more Beef Shorthorn crosses to feed into its premiumbeef scheme, Waitrose and M&S want to keep pace with the expanding market for Aberdeen Angus beef, and Waitrose isalsocommittedtobuying 300 Hereford cross steers and heifers a week.”

“Dairy farmers should be in no doubt that beef rearers will soon be clamouring for even more native breed sired calves and if they approach this opportunity professionally then regular additional income can be secured.”

The NBA believes the ideal approach would be to present well bred, well fed, well presented, 21- day-old native-breed sired calves to a well structured, buyer.

Suitably bred Angus cross bull calves are currently making £200 – £275 a head, heifers £100 – £180 a head – about the same as Limousin crosses with only British Blue and Simmental cross calves making more.

“We anticipate that as the retail market for top-shelf beef expands thenative breed calves that supply it will acquire more value in relation to other crosses,” said Mr Mallon.

“But the bulls must be good ones that can breed heifers with carcases weighing more than 280 kg and steers killing out at over 310kg.”