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Improving the output of your beef herd

During May South East Local Land Services ran for beef information days across the region in conjunction with Jeff House Livestock.

The sessions were run near Goulburn, Nowra, Cooma and Bega and attracted well over 130 producers. They highlighted the importance of herd fertility and examined management needed to get close to the ideal production target of 'every cow having a calf every year'.

The standout points discussed were:

  • The value of a restricted joining period (heifers - 6 weeks, cows -9 weeks)
  • The benefits of animals that calve earlier in the calving pattern
  • The importance of reaching critical mating and calving weights in heifers
  • The demands on breeders; as they should always pregnant or lactating or both
  • Fat score targets at calving (3-4), at joining (3) and post joining (minimum 2)
  • It takes about 2 months to improve 1 fat score condition, - which is not easy if the cows has demands from a calf
  • If cows loose condition,- early weaning can be an effective way to provide an opportunity for them to improve to target levels
  • Matching feed demand and supply is the most commonly used method to meet higher feed demands (spring calving ) - see Graph 1
  • The benefits of yard weaning
  • Assessing animals for fat and muscle
  • Selecting replacements based on the calf they produce rather than 'looks'

Graph showing energy requirements of 550kg British Breed Cow

Overall the days provided a great opportunity to check how your management stacked up, and challenged producers to select for fertile, easy care, well muscled offspring.

It was interesting that when Jeff proposed a 'no chances approach' as the best way to limit future problems and suggested that we all tend to show some leniency on heifers and cows that missed calving, and tend to make an excuse for them.

The attendees of every field day nodded, laughed and acknowledged he had found a point they could improve on.

Acknowledgements: South East Local Land Services would like to thank Tom and Christine Hughes, Mick and Jen Hamilton, Robbie Hain and Tim Collins for hosting field days and Jeff House of Jeff House Livestock for presenting at each session.