Saturday, December 2, 2023

Alliance gears up for busier bobby season

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Fonterra’s ‘every calf accounted for’ rule to put pressure on processing plants.
Calf numbers are forecast to be higher this season compared to last year.
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Alliance Group is boosting its capacity by almost a quarter to handle an expected increase in the number of bobby calves to be processed.

Fonterra last year updated its supply conditions, effectively banning the on-farm euthanising of calves without humane reasons, requiring every calf born to be accounted for.

Options for non-replacement calves include dairy-beef finishing and bobby calf collection for veal production and the petfood industry.

Murray Behrent, Alliance interim general manager livestock and shareholder services, said given a forecast increase in bobby calf volumes, the co-operative is increasing processing capacity at its Levin, Nelson, Smithfield (Timaru) and Lorneville (Invercargill) plants by 24% in the coming weeks. 

Behrent said the move is to support farmers during a potential pinch-point when bobby calf processing coincides with lamb processing.

“There will be significantly more bobby calves requiring processing at plants but we are confident the additional capacity provided will enable us to meet the needs of farmers as best as we can over the course of the season without compromising lamb or beef processing volumes,” he said.

Additional lamb and sheep capacity has also been added at its Dannevirke, Nelson and Pukeuri (Oamaru) plants to meet demand.

Given the increased demand for calf processing, Behrent is encouraging sheep and beef farmers to draft their animals before the start of the bobby calf season in their region.

“Calf numbers are forecast to be higher this season compared to last year. We encourage farmers to talk to their Alliance livestock representative to forecast the number of lambs they have for processing.” 

Alliance is also launching a mandatory app to allow farmers to streamline booking management for bobby calves; it automatically syncs with transport companies. 

“Our new app will also save time and effort for farmers, enabling them to delegate booking responsibilities to a calf rearer or another staff member,” said Behrent.

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