Why a calf costs on average only 7.89 euros

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DThe speckled coat is fluffy, the legs still wobbly, the muzzle soft and baby pink: calves give off a ravishingly cute picture in the first weeks after their birth – but in some cases are not worth more than two medium-sized cappuccinos for their breeders coffee house chain. That at least suggests a request from the Green Bundestag member Friedrich Ostendorff, which points to a sharp fall in prices on the market for young cattle. According to the response of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (BMEL) cattle breeders got in October for a calf only an average of 8.49 euros; In May, it was still 25 euros. First, the "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung" reported on it.

Jessica of Blazekovic

The Ministry refers to figures of the Agricultural Market Information Society (AMI). The industry service confirmed the information to F.A.Z. and even called an even lower German average of 7.89 euros. "It is important that this is the price for female black and white calves," said Tim Koch of the AMI. But even bull calves were worth on average 50 euros last only half as much as in the spring. The breeding association Schwarzbunt and Rotbunt Bayern confirmed on request of F.A.Z. that the prices for calves have recently dropped. At auctions but still would pay up to 260 euros for breeding animals of good origin. The association can not explain the figure of 8 euros.

In any case, price pressure is a big challenge for the companies concerned. Karsten Schmal, Vice President of the German Farmers Association (DBV), expects F.A.Z. "Usually one calf stays in the yard where it was born for three weeks. During this time, a calf costs about 150 to 200 euros. Now I have not yet come to 8.50 euros, but we have already sold calves for 50 euros. And even that is financially too little, if the costs are used. "

Cattle breeding not profitable

The federal government justified the price collapse with an oversupply of calves. Usually, surplus male cubs are sold to foreign fattening farms. Transport figures of the federal government, however, show that exports have recently stalled. From January to August of this year, slightly more than 418,000 calves weighing less than 80 kilograms were exported. In the same period of the previous year, it was around 40,000 more. "In the economic sector, there are always fluctuations that can not always be fixed to a single cause. For example, the emergence of animal diseases that are associated with trade restrictions or seasonal demands can lead to fluctuations, "said a spokeswoman for the BMEL at the request of F.A.Z. With.

The DBV is responsible for the decline and individual veterinary offices. They would no longer issue permits for calf transport to other EU countries. This leads directly and directly to a strong regional supply overhang and to the fall in prices, it says on request. The often more than 19 hours of transport are controversial for reasons of animal welfare. As reported by "Spiegel Online", Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner (CDU) had expressed doubts in a letter to her Bavarian counterpart whether such transports were compatible with the EU regulation.

AMI expert Koch, on the other hand, sees bluetongue as the main cause of the drop in prices, which has been raging in Germany for the first time in nine years since December 2018. For humans, the disease is not dangerous, but it has meant that the export of calves has been restricted. "The sale abroad is due to the disease currently only possible with a previous blood test. This is sometimes more expensive than the value of the animal, and then of course, no one does, "said Koch. He assumes that the epidemic can be dealt with quickly with the help of vaccinations – and then the prices rise again: "They can not stay at this level." At the meat counter, the current price level has not yet been noticeable made.

For Hubertus Paetow, President of the German Agricultural Society, the problem has a far greater dimension: "The calf has no real place in the value chain and so it comes in the end, that it is squandered in principle," he told the F.A.Z. Calves are co-products of milk production: In order to be able to milk a cow, she must have previously born a calf. Up to seven calves are said to give birth to a cow during their lifetime – not all are needed in the farm. Demand for dairy cows is stagnating and cattle rearing for meat production is not profitable in Germany due to strong competition from South America, said Paetow. In order to stabilize the price of calves in the long term, he named two options: "Either we are willing to pay considerably more for beef from German calves, or we come up with a procedure that ensures that the essential part of German calves is also profitable Meat production can be used. "It is conceivable, for example, a subsidy, so that the companies enter the" venture cattle fattening ".

Timo (t) Friedrich Ostendorff (t) Karsten Schmal (t) AMI (t) F.A.Z. (t) Federal Ministry of Agriculture (t) DBV


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