Red Devon calf born February 2020, photo taken July 2020

By James Wright, Product Manager at Breedr

Suckler cows are a great way of turning poor quality grass into beef. On my farm we have a herd of Red Devon’s on poor ELS pasture their calves are doing 1.6kg of growth per day on milk and grass. In comparison our Dairy x Beef animals are doing 1.1kg of growth per day on 4kg of pellet and grass. The cost of over wintering the cow is the biggest driver in suckler cow profitability, so ensuring you’re keeping efficient cows and retaining the best heifers for future breeding stock is vital.

  1. Use the advanced calving features in the Breedr app
    1. When you register a birth in the Breedr app, you will be prompted to record calving difficult and calf size. If you’re weighing your calves this is the place to enter it! Once you’re back in the office you can send the movement to BCMS and review your calving report to find the cows who are giving you the best calves with the least assistance.
  2. Weigh often using the crush mode
    1. Once you’ve got the calf out, you might be tempted not to weigh it until housing but an early summer weighing allows you to identify the animals that might need some assitance or find the dams that are struggling to keep their calf
One of this years calves on Bushovel Farm
  1. Track your healthiest cows with the medicine cabinet
    1. Recording your medicine usage isn’t just an easy way to keep your regulatory records up to date, it can also provide you with valuable insight into who is producing the healthiest growing calves. Check out the reports section to find out more.
  2. Find the best replacements from your heifers
    1. Use the group target tools to track your fastest growing heifers and find the ones that best fit your system. Heifers should be at 60% of adult cow weight at service and those in the top 10% will be aiming to service between 13 and 14 months of age. Use the growth target to decide which heifers you’re keep as replacements.
  3. Test your bulls
    1. Fertility testing is great for new bulls but once the bull is on the farm how can you easily check animal performance? In the Breedr web app you can access your sire report which will quickly show you which sire is producing the fastest growing calves.

Why not see how Breedr can improve your suckler breeding? Download the app today!

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