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The 2018 HerdPlus Beef Calving reports were released recently. This report is designed to give farmers an in depth insight into the reproductive performance of their herds. The calving reports run from mid-year, therefore the 2018 data covers the period from 1st July 2017 to 30th June 2018.

The average calving interval of the national herd has increased by 2 days from 394 days in 2017, to 396 days in 2018. However, the average of the last 3 years (394 day average 2016-2018) is 4 days better than the 3 years prior (398 day average 2013-2015). While year on year shows a negetive trend, the trend over the past half-decade for calving interval has been a positive one. (See graph above).

Similar trends are apparent one year on for other important fertility parameters such as calves per cow per year, percentage of heifers calved 22-26 months of age and percentage of females not calved in period (See Table 1 below). The National Statistics are based on herds with 10 calvings or more.

Table 1 – Beef Calving Statistics (National Averages)

The percentage of heifers calved 22-26 months of age has slipped by 2% year on year but again this trait is showing steady improvement over time as can be seen in “Table 1” above. An important aspect of calving beef heifers at 24 months is making sure that they meet target weights. Weighing all cattle is good practice and this is particularly true for replacement heifers. Farmers can do this by using their own scales and subsequently recording weights on the ICBF website, or they can avail of the ICBF technician service. Once heifers are weighed farmers can assess performance levels accurately and see where their heifers stand in relation to targets. The table below gives a simple outline of target weights at different ages, for calving beef heifers at 24 months.

target weights

The top 15% of herds had a calving interval of 355 days which equates to a calving interval that is all of 5.9 weeks greater than the figure for the national herd average of 396 days. This figure is some way behind that of the top 15% and with the calving interval figure for the national herd showing no change over the past half-decade, it has never been so important that we focus our breeding on bulls with a high Eurostar Replacement index with a high fertility sub-index.

Average figures from over the past 5 years indicate that we are moving in the right direction, however with year on year disimprovement to most KPIs, it is important to focus on improving the fertility of the national herd. The decisions made by farmers participating in Beef Data and Genomics Programme will show improvement with more focus on 4 and 5 star replacement breeding stock, the national herd will see improvement to this figure in the future and the trend for future years will show a more positive outcome as a result of this.

A full listing of all the beef statistics can be found on the ICBF Statistics page. If you have any questions on the calving report, the above statistics, or the Euro-Star ratings of animals, please do not hesitate to call ICBF HerdPlus® on 023 8820452 or [email protected].