Veal brings in the big bucks

Willow Grove beef farmer Sam Failla had 270.6 reasons to smile last week, after breaking the record per-kilo price for vealer cattle at the Warragul livestock saleyards last week.

“This is the best start to my vealer selling program for the eight years I’ve been in it, so I’m enjoying the game at the moment,” Mr Failla said.

Mr Failla mixes breed genetics to produce ‘vealers’ – calves sold off to butchers just after they stop feeding from their mothers – which he takes to market between nine and 11 months of age.

It was a single vealer last week which sold for $1177, at $2.70.6 per kilogram, that had Baw Baw Livestock Exchange manager John Cochrane particularly excited about the season.

“That’s a hell of a lot of money for a vealer. The last month has been enormously good for all the farmers, bulls are up to $2.50 per kilo, so our sellers are pretty happy smiling people at the moment,” Mr Cochrane said.

With international cattle prices high, and farmers across Gippsland enjoying excellent seasonal conditions – which means more feed on farm for cattle – Mr Failla is not the only one breaking sale records.

“So far this year I’ve sold 14 vealers, which have averaged at a $1000, I can’t say I haven’t done that before,” Mr Failla said.

“It’s probably been the kindest winter, spring and summer combination the district has come out of in a very long time. I’m only producing vealers for market, so your mainstream beef producers will really be laughing this year.

“I wasn’t shocked by the price I got because the cattle I’ve sold were pretty good. But you’ve got to remember most years are not as good as this, so we’ll be enjoying all this fresh grass as long as we can.”