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The 2014 HerdPlus Beef Calving Reports have now been posted to 9,500 Beef HerdPlus customers (see Sample). This report allows a farmer to fully assess the calving performance of their herd through Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) such as calving interval, calves per cow per year and mortality. Farmers can also compare their own herd to the national average and the top 15% of herds. Farmers should take note of the various KPI’s and look for areas for improvement. The following are some key things to focus on.

1. Calving Interval:  The aim with your calving interval is to have it as close to 365 days as possible. This can be difficult to achieve and requires good management as well as good genetics. Culling problem cows with average calving intervals of >390 days will help to reduce your calving interval figure.

4. Calves per Cow per Year:  The aim is to have each cow producing one calf per year. As mortality at birth, or soon after birth is sometimes unavoidable, a calf per cow per year can be very difficult to achieve. Aim to have this figure as high as possible. The top 15% of herds are achieving 0.96 calves per cow per year. This would equate to 19 calves weaned from a 20 cow suckler herd. If your figure is low then you need to assess the reasons why. Ask yourself:

  • Am I having fertility problems and struggling to get cows back in calf?
  • Am I using bulls with high calving difficulty figures, leading to more calving problems?
  • Am I having health problems with calves in the first few weeks after birth?

5. % of Heifers Calved 22-26 months:  Aim to calve as many of your heifers from 22-26 months of age. Nationally, only 17% of heifers are calving at this age. Farmers are electing to leave their heifers run to older ages before calving them. This leads to a significant increase in the cost of bringing a heifer to her first calving.

6. Females not Calved in the Period:  Aim to have this figure as low as possible. “Passenger” cows are a huge cost to the system and should be culled. These cows are pushing up your average calving interval figure and lowering your calves per cow per year figure.

10 & 11. Births with Known Sire & Calving Survey Data:  It is vitally important to the genetic evaluation process that sires and calving surveys are recorded on all calves at registration. If you are a participant in the Beef Data Programme (BDP) and Beef Genomics Scheme (BGS), this data is compulsory. Farmers should endeavour to have these figures as high as possible. This data can be recorded when registering calves on agfood.ie, in the white animal events book or through a farm software package. Any missing data can be recorded, post registration, on the ICBF website.

If you have any questions on your Beef Calving Report, please do not hesitate to contact HerdPlus on 1850 600 900 or [email protected]