Managing bobby calf welfare

Managing bobby calf welfare

Care of calves is a high priority for the dairy industry. Animal welfare requirements apply to all calves born on farm, whether they are destined for the milking herd, reared elsewhere for beef, or marketed as bobby calves.

Refer to the Rearing Healthy Calves manual for information on industry agreed calf management practices.

A bobby calf is:

  • Less than 30 days old.
  • Weighs less than 80kg live weight.
  • Is usually a dairy breed or cross.
  • Is sold for meat or reared for dairy-beef.

Around 400,000 bobby calves are processed each year in Australia supporting local jobs and providing a valuable protein resource.

The dairy industry is working with calf buyers and transporters, saleyard agents and abattoir workers to ensure that everyone involved in the management, transportation, handling and marketing of bobby calves understands their responsibilities to protect calf health and welfare and meets the agreed standards.

The dairy industry is investing the welfare of bobby calves through:

  • Training via the National Centre for Dairy Education (NCDE), to ensure farmers are aware of their responsibilities for the rearing and housing of all calves and guaranteeing fitness for sale.
  • A joint project with processors and saleyards to train people that manage and handle bobby calves.
  • A bobby calf traceability trial to verify whole-of-supply-chain responsibility for bobby calves.

More information

Calf management across the supply chain (PDF, 1055KB)

This Report summarises significant achievements in addressing two principal issues of critical importance to the dairy industry and the wider community. They are:

  • Everybody understands the calf supply chain commitment to responsible handling and care of calves.
  • The calf supply chain maintains an excellent reputation for production of veal that meets required food industry standards.

Dairy beef calves - what makes a good one? (PDF, 146KB)

Dairy beef producers source excess calves from dairy farms to rear and grow for specialised lean beef markets.
Rearing calves is an expensive business, with at least a third of the total cost incurred during the first 12 weeks of a calf’s life. It is, therefore, very important that buyers select and purchase strong, bright, healthy calves from a clean, disease-free environment and that calves are carefully selected to meet the specifications of the target market.

This report helps you with selecting dairy beef calves with the key benefits being:

  • Minimise operating costs and maximise productivity by establishing a reliable source of dairy beef calves.
  • Meet the specifications of your target market by choosing the right calves.
  • Avoid potential problems and disease risks for your calf rearing facility by knowing which calves to reject.