Farm Table says:
There are three parts to this ‘Improving Suckler Herd Fertility’ booklet.
Background to the importance of suckler herd fertility:
- Best performers consistently exceed 95 calves reared for every 100 cows mated.
- Cows calving in first 3 weeks – 65%
- Calf mortality birth to weaning – <2%
- Weaning another 6 calves increases average calf weight reared to 268kg per cow and heifer to the bull, an improvement of 17kg. Calf output per cow rises to £335, an improvement of £21 per cow or £2,138 for the
100 cow herd.
- The most effective way to increase weaning weight is to tighten up the calving pattern. A calf born in the first 3 weeks of the calving period will be heavier at weaning than one born 6 weeks into the calving period
Advantages of compact calving include:
- Less time supervising calvings.
- Fewer late calving cows reduce the risk of more difficult calvings.
- Management operations on bigger batches.
- Reduces risk of disease spread from older to more vulnerable younger calves.
- Herd fertility.
- More cows bulling at one time makes cows show heat behaviour more strongly.
- Calves born earlier are heavier at weaning than calves born later.
- Compact calving results in more even batches of store cattle.
- Finishing cattle sold faster if born earlier.
- More calves born early increases the pool of heifer calves at suitable weight and maturity for bulling.
Benchmarking herd fertility
The five key principles for improving fertility:
- Management of bulling heifers
- Bulls – soundness and fertility
- Managing cow condition and nutrition
- Avoiding difficult calvings
- Maintaining herd health